Friday, October 20, 2017

Ellen Foster

Raw and unflinching, this story told through a young girl's eyes will captivate readers. Born to a depressed mother and abusive alcoholic Ellen learns to fend for herself and to depend on the kindness of strangers, especially on the colored family down the road. When Ellen loses her mother she isn't shocked or surprised she just further goes into survival mode, bouncing from one household to the next, trying to find someone willing to care for and love a ten year old. Set in the south during the sixties, this book is sure to generate lively discussion. It's a quick read and Kaye Gibbons does a wonderful job viewing the world through a child's imagination. Witty, charming, and precious.

God Hates Astronauts

The more bizarre a book or a comic is the more apt I am to love it. This was no exception. It's over the top ridiculous, makes virtually no sense is filled with bizarre plot lines and even crazier characters. There are 5 super heroes on a team, but virtually everyone else they meet is either a mutant half breed or has powers of their own. There are cheeseburger eating tigers, a starman with a ghost horse head, a cop with gorilla arms, unidentifiable creatures and more. It's insanity and you should probably read it because there is no way that I can describe what in the hell is going on.

Caroline

Straight up a must read for any grown up Little House fan. This book did not disappoint! Caroline is told through the perspective of Ma and it starts right where Little House in the Big Woods ends. We saw Laura's carefree nature, Pa's strong unwavering love, Caroline's fears about giving birth in the plains with no other females around to assist her. This goes into more detail about the little things that readers always wondered but never knew, how the family went to the bathroom on the road, how childbirth went on the prairie, how the house was built, what was really going on with the Indians. It beautifully ties in with the series and lends an adult viewpoint to the stories we love so well. I would love to see more books that feature Caroline as an adult narrator, this was lovely!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Between A Heart And A Rock Place

I flew through this book! It's not long and drawn out like many other music biographies are, it's succinct, raw, honest, and straight to the point. Plus as far as rockers go, Pat has had a pretty tame life. No booze, drugs, scandals, or rehab have marred her reputation. She's straitlaced but still kicks ass and has a great time doing it. Pat chronicles her childhood, her rise to fame, marriage, motherhood, and making come backs. Before reading this I only knew the essential Pat Benatar songs, but now I have a whole new appreciation of her and the struggles she faced (namely music executives and record companies) trying to be a female rock singer in the eighties.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Prairie Fires

I was initially intimidated by the sheer size of this book, but I needn't have worried because it's fast paced and fascinating. Like most kids I grew up reading and LOVING the Little House book series. It filled my imagination and I found myself returning to the series again and again. The detail, rich illustrations, simple storytelling, and perseverance has lasting impressions on millions of readers. Many sequels, spin offs, biographies, and histories have been written by the Little House estate but this may be considered one of the greatest. Author, Caroline Fraser does a masterful job of weaving together the true portrait of the Ingalls-Wilder family though the woods, prairies, and shores and readers will be shocked to learn all that was omitted and/or changed. It get's really fascinating as Laura gets older and Rose enters the picture. Learning about their political beliefs, financial hardships, and Rose's brazenness was darkly fascinating. Especially interesting was how the books were written in the sunset of Laura's career and at her daughter's urging and editing. None of these insights make me think any less of the original series but it helps shed some light on this dynamic and interesting family and makes me appreciate it more. A WONDERFUL non-fiction read for all.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Turn Coat

I keep getting more and more obsessed with this series. They just keep getting better! The plots, dialogue, characters, everything! Harry Dresden is legit my biggest fictional crush. What a gem. I accidentally read this book AFTER reading book twelve, but honestly it really didn't change a thing or mess anything up. There was a surprise character death in this one that I didn't see coming, but honestly with the way it played out, I wasn't even mad. It's nice to see Molly getting some more page time, she's becoming a pretty solid apprentice (even when she screws up!). This series does not disappoint and I can't wait to get my hand on the next one!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Turtles All the Way Down

A new direction for John Green that did not disappoint. Reminded me heavily of Matthew Quick's teen novels dealing with mental illness. My only beef is that the main character Aza, seemed very... non-gendered. I literally did not realize she was a female until a chapter or two in. I don't know if it's because John Green is a male writer or he intentionally left her pretty gender neutral, but Aza's only defining qualities and personality was her her mental illness. I didn't get much other feel for her. I'm not even saying I wanted her girly, I just wanted to have more of a sense for her. The story follows Aza and her best friend as they go on a quest to find a rich old white man who has run away from the cops. There is a hundred thousand dollar reward and they feel pretty confident that they could turn up a lead or two. After all they kind of know his son. The story is filled with friendship, mental illness, romance, class privilege, loss of loved ones, beautiful words, and levity. Another solid from the king of teen.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Sirena

As a kid I LOVED this book, as an adult it's good, but not nearly as amazing as I remember. It's a bit on the depressing side and could honestly, pass for an adult book rather than a teen one. Sirena tells the story of a mermaid who falls in love with a man, sleeps with him, becomes immortal, and then must face a decision on whether or not to let him leave their private island. The part I liked most about it was all the Greek gods and legends tied in with it. Odysseus even makes an appearance. Also, as far as mermaid books goes, this one still holds up the best. It's written brilliantly, but it is on the short side. I wanted to go to their private island and hang out with Sirena and her mortal lover. They sounded pretty chill. Still solid and now I want to read more by Donna Jo Napoli, I love her fairy tale retellings!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

There's Someone Inside Your House

This was a quick, teen horror read and brings back fond memories of the teen horror movie, Scream. It was a little campy, a lot of fun, and perfect to get me in the mood for Halloween and slasher films. In the small town of Nebraska, not much is notable for Hawaii native, Makani. After a tragic incident occurred the previous year, Makani was banished from Hawaii and sent to live with her Grandma in the middle of nowhere. Their small town is pretty humdrum but things suddenly start to get a lot more exciting when someone starts brutally killing high schoolers. With no motive, no discernible pattern people start to freak out. Who will be next? Why is someone doing this? Makani's boring school year just got a lot more exciting (in a very bad way!).

Monday, October 9, 2017

Branded Outlaw

To date the other L. Ron Hubbard book I've ever read was Battlefield Earth which I loved (I even loved the movie, sue me!) so reading an old pulp western was definitely a big change up for me. This book wasn't bad or good. It was short and sweet and had the standard ingredients for a western. Warning spoilers ahead. I've literally outlined the entire book. Man's childhood home and father are killed. He comes back seeking vengeance. No one believes him so he starts shooting up people. Man becomes an outlaw. He is saved by a young girl who helps clean his wounds and heal him. He falls in love. Turns out her father is the bad guy. He runs away. Gets captured. Escapes. Discovers the truth. Is vindicated. Gets the girl. A quick unmemorable read that wasn't poorly written.

Living the Dream

Broke twenty somethings struggle to find themselves, happiness, and some money in modern day London. Clementine has just recently returned from a year of film school in America. Unfortunately she is stuck living in her parents house and forced to face mounting debt. In order to make ends meet and pay bills she takes a job bartending until she can sell some of her screenplays. Her best friend, Emma is stuck in a monotonous job at a corporate advertising firm. It's slowly sapping her of her creativity, passion, and zest for life. Together they face one night stands, binge drinking, aging parents, unhappy jobs, and a quest to find a better life. Certainly not ground breaking but the writing was fresh and witty which made reading this a breeze. For fans of Sex in the City, Bridget Jones' Diary, and other coming of age novels.

Dear Fahrenheit 451

This might be my favorite book of the year. NO LIE! I related to this book on such a personal level. Not just because I'm also a librarian, but her opinion on books, hilarious asides, and love for her profession made me want to become best friends and join a book club with her. For real. Dear Fahrenheit 451 is composed of a bunch of letters written to novels, authors, and series that evoked a strong response from the author. They weren't all positive, some were negative, but ALL of them were witty, funny, and well written. The book manages to be informative, inspiring, and personal without being too judgey which can be a hard line to stay on. My reading list just got longer (alright alright I'll check out The Virgin Suicides!) and I can't wait to read whatever else Annie Spence decides to write.

The Nine

The first book in what looks to be a promising new series from debut author, Tracy Townsend. Part steampunk, part urban fantasy, all around badass; this story will captivate readers and wanting more. When a young courier fails to deliver her intended package to The Alchemist all hell breaks loose. Who stole the package and why? What was in it? The Alchemist, his daughter, the spunky young courier and a former mercenary find themselves working together to not only save themselves, but to save the package before it gets into the wrong hands. It has the potential to turn their world upside and rewrite everything they know about God and religion. This unlikely rag-tag team must learn to trust each other if they plan on living. Fun, inventive, and fast paced, the memorable characters and scenery make this book a must read. I'd love to see this on the big screen, the story plays out so good and the characters, creatures, and city seem like they were made to be visualized.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The Pretender

As far as inspirational fiction goes this wasn't this worst, but it was a little drawn out and ended in a "cliffhanger" which was frustrating. The Pretender is the first in the Caselli Family series and centers around a Christian Italian family living in South Dakota in the seventies. Tillie (known as Angel) is a very well heeled young Godly woman and Noah is a Vietnam vet, taking to drinking and womanizing. Their paths cross when Tillie finds herself in an art competition with her friends in Noah's home town and within two days the two are head over heels in love with each other and decide to get married when Tillie turns 18. When Tillie comes back to see Noah later the next month she sees a woman kiss Noah and immediately assumes the worst, she cuts him out of her life, leaving him no way to find her again. Noah has turned his life around and has been waiting for Tillie for months so they can resume their courtship but she never shows and he doesn't know why. Told through alternating perspectives, the story shows how both Noah and Tillie fell for each other, suffered heartbreak, and then tried to move on with their lives. In order to see any kind of resolution the reader will clearly have to continue reading the series.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Coming Up for Air

Kenneally, Miranda. Coming Up For Air. 6 CDs. unabridged. Dreamscape Media. 2017. ISBN 9781520073552. 

Bestselling contemporary young adult author, Miranda Kenneally, has written another sports romance that teens will devour. Maggie's entire life is swimming; she eat breathes, and drinks swimming. Since she was a young girl her life has revolved around her biggest passion, training hard enough to snag a spot on the Olympic team. Everything; school, friends, and a social life, have come second in order for her succeed. Now that she's gearing up for college however, she's having some second thought. She's never experienced what most typical teenagers live like. No boyfriend, no prom, and certainly no kissing. Scared that she will appear inexperienced she asks her best friend and swimming partner, Levi for some tips on "hooking up" so she won't be a fish out of water when she goes to college. Little does she realize the feelings that will emerge for her best friends when things start to get hot and heavy. Suddenly swimming isn't the only thing on her mind. Narrated by Carly Robins, who does an excellent job bringing Maggie and Levi alive with her youthful voice and mannerisms. For fans of Kenneally's Hundred Oak series, sports themed reads, and teen romance. - Erin Cataldi, Johnson Co. Public Library, Franklin, IN

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Mind Game

Mistake number one - reading the 22nd book in a series, when I have never read anything by this author, let alone anything in this series. Mistake number two - failing to realize how poor of a writer Iris Johansen is before I started reading this. Just because someone is a New York Times bestselling authors with millions of book sold does not guarantee they will know how to write. Mistake number three - reading and completing this book. It was utter tripe. I have such contempt for this book that I don't even want to bother with the summary. There was like twenty different things happening and none of them were very connected. Also, I had no idea that this was a supernatural series. The characters were flat, the writing was crap, and the plot was.... whack. Also according to Amazon the word "drily" was used 31 times. That is 30 times too many. Avoid this book.

Friday, September 29, 2017

I Am Ozzy

Honestly more enjoyable than I thought it would be. Thankfully he had a writer help him out so it wasn't all unintelligible gibberish, it was actually quite interesting. I shouldn't be surprised, he's an interesting and crazy guy and this book really highlights the insanity of his life. He starts with his childhood, formation of Black Sabbath, his first marriage, his obscene amount of alcohol and drug abuse, his marriage to Sharon, his solo career, his second family, his TV show, and getting sober. He's accomplished a lot and how he isn't dead I have no idea. My nose was literally itching from the amount of waffle dust and drugs used. I didn't enjoy all the animal abuse, cheating, or domestic abuse, but at least he owns up to those and doesn't make excuses for himself. Overall an interesting fucked up enjoyable read.

Monday, September 25, 2017

David Bowie: A Life

Not the greatest biography on Bowie, and certainly not the worst. The collection is just so so. This oral history biography recounts collections from Bowie's closest friends, family, band members, partners, and more; unfortunately it doesn't shed much new light on his life. If you're a seasoned Bowie lover you can pass by this, however if this is your first Bowie biography it's not bad. It can get a little repetitive at times and the format of the oral histories takes some getting used to , but it's still pieced together pretty well. Best read while listening to Bowie's music on repeat for the full effect.

The Tommy Gun Dolls

This book was beautiful and badass and I CANNOT WAIT for the next volume. After waiting years to get my hands on this I was not disappointed. The illustrations are out of this world good and I couldn't stop reading until I was done. I had to know how these dames got out of their mess. Mix together some burlesque, flappers, mafia, vengeance, and general feminist badassery and you have an idea of how great this graphic novel is. Check it out, you won't regret it!

Beauty and the Beast

I'm not going to lie, I'm giving this 5 out of 5 stars simply because this book is so gorgeous. The illustrations are divine and the interactive elements are beautiful. I honestly can't recall the last time I was so bowled over by how pretty a book was. The text and story are quite different from what most people remember in the Disney version. The text in this book is used from one of the original French translations, so there are some big notable differences. Beauty has lots of siblings, there is no Gaston, no talking household items, lots of fairies, and trickery, and more. It's not bad, just different. The text can also be a little clunky, but I think that's due to the translation and time period it was written. Kids (and adults) will be enthralled enough in the illustrations and interactive elements to not care. A beautiful book that will light up any bookshelf.

Going Clear

LORD HELP ME! This book was outta control. I wish it was science fiction. You ever read a book and it lifts the curtain and it's like you can see clearly for the first time? That's what this was. Obviously I'm familiar with the controversy surrounding Scientology and I know that this religion was created by the Science Fiction legend, L. Ron Hubbard, but other than that... I didn't know anything. Reading this was eye opening and terrifying. All religions are unique, but this "new one" is pretty freaking scary. Lawrence Wright does an amazing job outlining L. Ron Hubbard's life, early stages of Scientology, its ties to Hollywood, and the terrifying reality for those that get sucked into it. Scientology is INSANE. I get all belief systems are a little "unique" but this one is out of the ballpark. You have to read it to believe it.  After reading this I cannot wait to watch some of the documentaries and read more. It's almost unbelievable.

Friday, September 22, 2017

The Road Through Wonderland

This was definitely an unsettling, upsetting, and heartbreaking memoir. Dawn Schiller had a rough childhood to say the least. With a deadbeat dad, and lots of crime and drugs she had to grow up very quickly. When she finds herself in California at 15 she meets the enigmatic Porn King, John Holmes (aka Johnny Wadd). He quickly seduces her even though he is already in his mid thirties and she isn't even close to legal. Their relationship quickly escalates and he moves her in to his wife's house to live with them. Things start to spiral out of control quickly though when they start heavily using crack. Not content to just snort it they start freebasing it as well. John's porn career is over and he finds himself heavily in debt as his drug usage mounts. He starts beating Dawn and forces her into prostitution to get more money for drugs. Things take a dark turn when Dawn realizes that he has somehow been involved in a murder in Wonderland. All the reader wants is for Dawn to leave John. He is LITERALLY THE WORST! But that is abuse for you, not only is it physical but mental too. Dark and unreal, the movie version stars Val Kilmer and Kate Bosworth.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Bad Beginning

I'm probably the last person in the world to have started this series. And I've never seen the movie or the Netflix original series. I am seriously late to the game. But! Better late than never! I decided to try out the audiobook because it's narrated by Tim Curry and that is a total no brainer. He has the voice of a god. A terrifying god, but that is what makes him so perfect to take on this darkly funny series. The Bad Beginning introduces to three poor orphans who have just lost their parents in a horrible fire. As if that isn't bad enough the will states they must live with whatever relative is closest and that turns out to be the horrible Count Olaf who has some nasty tricks up his sleeve. The will the orphan's parent's left states that the large inheritance can't be used until the oldest daughter turns of age. But that does nothing to stop dastardly Count Olaf. Witty and dark, this is a fun children's series that I definitely plan on reading more of!

Elizabeth I

I haven't read historical fiction in a minute and I will admit that I was first daunted by the size of this book. However I was quickly captivated and this book was all I could think about. I had to know more! I vaguely remember learning about Queen Elizabeth I in history class, but what did I really know about her, so much was a mystery about her private life.

This 600+ page novel doesn't start during her childhood or even during her early reign. It starts when the Queen is in her mid-fifties and follows her through the end of her rule. It was utterly FASCINATING! The plot is told through the Queen's perspective and through her cousin, Lettice. Together they know an impressive cast of characters; Shakespeare, Francis Bacon, Grace O'Malley and more. I learned so much and was kept utterly charmed. I couldn't believe how wonderfully this was written and how much research the author put in to flesh out the queen's life. I can't wait to read more by this author.

Friday, September 15, 2017

God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater

I definitely appreciated this much more on the second go around. Admittedly it's not my favorite Vonnegut novel, but I still think it's pretty solid... in an off the wall kind of fucked up way. This black comedy satire novel, pokes fun at everything: the wealthy, how Americans view poverty, science fiction, family trees, foundations, and more. Eliot Rosewater is the head of the insanely rich Rosewater Foundation and since he's been head he's been mostly drunk and not altogether sane. He'll write out grants for morphine, poetry, whatever anyone in his crazy community asks for. Shit hits the fan when it turns out that there is another Rosewater relation who might be more legally sane and responsible to take over the foundation since Eliot has no children. It's zany, over the top, and filled with the Vonnegut charm.

The Great Passage

Miura, Shion. The Great Passage. 6 CDs. unabridged. Brilliance Audio. 2017. ISBN 9781536631852. $14.99.

"A dictionary is a ship that crosses the sea of words." In this charming Japanese translation (translated by Juliet Winters Carpenter), an unforgettable cast of characters; eat, breathe, and live words. Their pursuit of the perfect dictionary, The Great Passage, is a long arduous journey but no one seems to mind. While working together they discover, love, friendship, passion, and a sense of purpose. Over the years their passion for lexicography never dims, if anything it only grows stronger as they share their passion with new recruits and employees in the dictionary editorial department. Narrator, Brian Nishi does a wonderful job bringing authenticity and feeling to the forefront, never stumbling over Japanese phrasing and words. His warmth greatly adds to the feeling and charm of the story. A quick, intriguing, and unique story certain to attract readers. Perfect for fans of "A Man Called Ove," literary translations, and heartwarming tales. - Erin Cataldi, Johnson Co. Public Library, Franklin, IN

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Atomic Blonde

The only thing I had to go off of was the previews for the action packed movie adaptation, other than that I had no idea what this book was actually about. The movie looks like Charlize Theron just kicking a lot of ass, but the book there isn't so much of that. It's about spies in Germany during the Cold War before the wall fell. When shit hits the fan and a very sensitive document goes missing M16 sends a tried and true officer (Lorraine) to recover the item and sort out the mess. She quickly realizes that not everything is as it seems and that some agents may have gone native, playing more than one side. She uses her skills to get to the bottom of the rabbit trail, but where will it lead her... A spy thriller as a graphic novel, I'm sure the movie adaptation, will make this gem more sought over.

Modern Romance

Even though this is non-fiction, it is also straight up comedy gold. Aziz makes an interesting topic more engaging and easy to read by inserting his trademark wit and humor. Modern Romance is exactly what the title implies, it's all about love, dating, and relationships in the modern era. It's not all conjecture though, he consults top researchers in a variety of fields to provide statistical analysis, charts, and graphs and also conducted tons of focus groups to see how people today view romance in the age of technology. There is some interesting new trends on how we meet soul mates, judge potential candidates, and view love now that we have access to a wide variety of dating apps, social media, and expanded friend groups. Definitely an interesting read that is sure to start great conversation.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

She's Come Undone

I have strong feelings about this book I just don't know what they are. I'm honestly kind of speechless. I think it was great? Hell, what happened? What did I read? How do you describe such a complex and... uncomplicated book? It's a coming of age story, an awakening, an odyssey of emotional and mental health. It's all over the place. It all centers around Dolores Price, a young girl who isn't the most emotionally stable. She starts off as a fragile little thing and balloons up into a fat, depressed cynic, and then spends the rest of her life roller coasting around until she finds some sort of balance. It's a discussion of women's rights, religion, mental health, family dynamics, romantic relationships, and more. She is a complex, intriguing heroine/villain/comedic actress. Honestly I can't describe this book and do it justice. It takes a little to get into, but once you do... buckle up.

All the Dirty Parts

I was definitely intrigued by this book when I realized it was written by the author of the Series of Unfortunate Events (Lemony Snicket) and it was all about sex and horny teenagers. I mean, obviously I had to give this book a shot. It wasn't great, but it wasn't bad either. I didn't know what to expect honestly. It's a bunch of short passages about a horny teenage boy discussing his love and appreciation for the female body, pornography, and sex. Cole has  bit of a reputation around his high school, he chases after the ladies, he can't help it. He just wants them all. When in between ladies, he watches porn with his best friend Alec. One day things get all hot and awkward and the two boys start fooling around. It's just innocent exploration. Until suddenly it's a little more and Cole is getting concerned. Is he gay? What does this mean? At the height of his existential crisis a new girl comes to school and the two start having crazy awesome sex, much to Alec's dismay. Is he bi? Is he in love? Is it just sex? All this book contains are the dirty parts. That and confusion. It's a quick read, and I'm not sure what I gained out of it, but I didn't hate it.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Drunks

I was expecting a more light hearted funny non fiction book about the history and plight of the American drunks, but instead got the in-depth history of drunks (starting with American Indians) trying to reform and become sober. It's my bad for not reading the complete description! Every chapter goes into detail about a different method of obtaining sobriety from gold cures to workhouses to temperance society to prohibition to the birth of AA. It's pretty interesting actually and I learned quite a lot, even if it did get a little too bogged down in details. There is a small insert with some pictures and drawings to shed light on some of the different cures and methods discussed. An interesting read, but will mostly be useful for college students, those interested in the history of alcoholism, and those trying to stay sober.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

A Record of My Vinyl

This gorgeous journal is perfect for the music lover in your life. Whether they're a vinyl junkie or just starting to collect, this journal is a great way to record, organize, and mark favorites in your collection. The cover itself is beautiful, but it only gets prettier when you open it up. Inside there are tips for cleaning and maintaining your vinyl collection, lists that can be easily torn out and taken with you as you shop for more vinyl to add to your collection, loads of space to catalog your collection and room to make notes and memories of each. Overall, it's a great gift to give or receive.

Monstress

Beautifully illustrated and complex, I haven't seen a graphic novel like this in ages. Filled with beautiful illustrations, a little bit of manga, and comic art this new series is sure to attract a wide audience. The storyline can be a little hard to follow at times, but overall I think it's worth checking out. Mix horror, manga, steampunk, and fantasy and you have Monstress. It's dark, gorgeous, and twisting and I wouldn't even begin to do it justice by trying to write a summary for it. Just check it out for yourself :)

Saturday, September 2, 2017

The Girls in the Picture

I adored this book. For some unknown reasons I didn't have high expectations, maybe it was the cover? Who knows, but despite my initial misgivings, I am happy to say that I was instantly hooked. The story was wonderfully crafted and the chapters alternated between Mary Pickford, America's Sweetheart, first "celebrity," and silent movie star and Frances Marion, the famed screenwriter. I had heard of Mary Pickford but I didn't really know about her or the silent film era either. Readers get a wonderful glimpse of what life was like for women in early Hollywood through the unique lens of two women who actually existed (although their narratives are in this book are fiction). The history of silent film and the birth of Hollywood is fascinating and this book offers an in depth look at not only these two women, but the men surrounding them, Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, studio heads and more. One of the best historical fiction reads I've read in a long while and a must read!

Changes

Wow, this book really helped tie together so much of the series. And if I'm being honest, it's one of the best ones in a while. Dresden finds out that he had a daughter with Susan and that she's been kidnapped by the red court who want to murder her to complete a blood sacrifice. So once again, stupid Susan is on my list. UGH. Obviously shit hits the fan and it takes a whole crew to help Harry out because he is in waaay too deep. It's a non-stop action ride with everyone's favorite wizard kicking ass and cracking jokes. I can't wait to read the next in the series because this one totally ended on a cliffhanger. Amazeballs!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Spell On Wheels

I LOVED this graphic novel! I think it sets the right tone for starting off a series and I loved the three witches it featured. It's fun, sassy, intriguing, and honest. Everything I want in a comic. It was refreshing to see some diversity in body types and race as well. Think charmed, but way cooler. Someone breaks into their house and steals some of their magical goods, they find it's popped up on the online black market so they go on a magical road trip to recover all their items and seek vengeance on whatever black heart stole from them. Super fun and I can't wait to continue the series!

Paper Girls vol. 3

This series continues to get more intriguing and I'm not sure where exactly it's headed, but honestly that makes it more interesting. In this latest installment the twelve year old newspaper girls find themselves stuck in the pre-historic past. They encounter a girl their age, already a mother, and with the help of a translating device, they work together to find a way to get out of their before monsters or the "men" find them.

Of Jenny and the Aliens

I haven't felt so strongly about a book in a long time, but I truly despised this teen book. The writing style wasn't bad and there was some decent humor but overall the plot and the characters were horrible! Derek, a dorky, but still slightly popular teenager goes to a house party the night the world finds out aliens exist. Everyone is more carefree and open and scared, so he finds himself talking to Jenny (who is walking around the party topless) and later in the evening he loses his virginity to her. He becomes OBSESSED with Jenny over night and she is all he can think about. Even when he runs into an alien and talks with it, it's still not as cool as Jenny. When things inevitably begin to go south with this uber horny, slightly stalkerish teen he tries to ask his new alien friend for help. Because he doesn't care about the big war going on, he just wants some more action from Jenny. Like for real?!?! That's what you would ask an alien for help with? Filled with horny teens, loads of underage drinking, weed usage, and overall asshole kids, this teen novel is  hard pass. I'm not even a prude but the conclusion of the novel advocated for open relationships. Soo that's cool... Seriously, the worst.

Friday, August 25, 2017

The Great Quake

I love non-fiction and The Great Quake did an excellent job discussing the Good Friday Earthquake that hit Alaska in 1964 and going in depth about what was known about earthquakes and geology at the time. Henry Fountain includes lots of photos and personal testimonies to show just how devastating this quake was and how it changed our understanding of the world. The theory of plate tectonics (a term not even coined yet) was still hotly debated and scientists understanding and research of earthquakes was rudimentary at best. The great quake helped prove the plate tectonics theory, a concept I thought had been around for much longer than it really was. A deeply interesting read although sometimes it did get a little too bogged down in scientific details.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Class Mom

Essentially chick lit/ beach read, but nevertheless very funny and unique. Most parents of kindergartners are in their twenties and thirties, but Jen Dixon a former INXS groupie with two girls in college, is about to break that mold. Her son Max is entering kindergarten and the duty of class mom falls on her shoulders. She sends out her emails with wit and sarcasm in order to whip up volunteers for events, foods, and crafts. Told through emails and narrative, this book reads quickly and is laugh out loud funny at points. Great for moms breaking the molds or anyone who loves chick lit with lots of good laughs.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

See What I have Done

This fictional retelling of the Lizzie Borden murders was gripping from page one. Sarah Schmidt does a wonderful job recounting the events leading up to the infamous murder of Lizzie Borden's parents by telling the story in multiple voices. Lizzie, her sister Emma, the maid Bridget, and a mysterious man by the name of Benjamin view the events though different eyes and add an air of mystery. Did Lizzie Borden really murder her parents with an ax? Why was the Borden house so messed up? What are they all hiding? It's eerie and compelling and an overall quick read. Dark, morbid, and fascinating - historical fiction at it's best!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Ms. Marvel: Damage Per Second

As the series progresses, Ms. Marvel makes it pretty clear that this series is intended for teens. Damage Per Second focused on getting teens and citizens to "rock the vote" and change politics by being involved, the second part focused on a computer virus that learned from people connected on the internet and started blackmailing Ms. Marvel and releasing people's secrets. Overall, not bad, but not very strong either.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Meddling Kids

This was a fun, over the top, nostalgic read. I've always been a huge fan of the classic kids cartoon, Scooby Doo, so I was more than ready to devour an adult "continuation? of Scooby's gang. Due to copyright and all that, the names are all changed as are their personalities. Nate (Shaggy) borders on the edge of crazy and voluntarily has shut himself in a loony bin, Andy (Velma) is super butch, strong, and obsessed with weapons, Kerri (Daphne) is the gorgeous super smart college dropout, and Peter (Fred) became a Hollywood success only to commit suicide and of course we can't forget Tim (Scooby), their faithful companion. Thirteen years after they solved their last mystery the gang reunites to put to rest some lingering doubts they had about the weird circumstances surrounding the Sleepy Lake Monster. It's been years since they've worked together, but they quickly realize that this one might be more than a man in a mask. Lots of fun, I want more!

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Identicals

This was a refreshingly light, easy beach read.I enjoyed it. It's not one that will stick with me forever, but it was easy to lose myself in the story and pass the time. The story follows two estranged middle aged twins. One of the twins lives on Martha's Vineyard and has bounced from job to job, a free spirited, drinking, husband stealing man. The other works for their mother in Nantucket, operating an upscale boutique and trying to reign in her rambunctious teenage daughter. The twins haven't spoken in nearly fourteen years but the untimely death of their father brings them together. They decide to "switch lives" for the summer, Harper helping out with the store and the rebellious teenager, while Tabitha goes to Martha's Vineyard to gut and re-sell their father's house. Little do they know how much their lives are about to change.

Dreams to Remember

I love music biography's but this one felt lacking to me. It wasn't solely about Otis Redding (only about 95% him.....) and talked a lot about Stax Records and a few other soul singers (but only in relation to Otis). It was very clinical and skimmed over a lot of Otis' life in favor of talking about his recording sessions, rumors about his infidelities and death, and his managers and music companies. This book lacked soul. It was flat, one dimensional, and unexciting. Which is a shame, it's the Big O for crying out loud! I would much rather check out some other Otis Redding biographies. Something with a little more heart.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Possessions

I wanted to like this book I really did. But it never took a hold of me. It never possessed me.... for lack of a better word (see what I did there). The main character isn't easy to relate to or have empathy for, in fact I couldn't find myself caring about ANY of the characters in the novel (and there weren't many!). In this modern society people can speak to their loved ones who have died by going to certain clinics and having people channel their spirits. Edie has been a body (one who can channel the dead) for five years, longer than anyone else ever has. She doesn't mind that her body gets more use by others since she doesn't have any life to speak of. But that all changes when Patrick Braddock comes into her room to speak to his dead wife. For some reason she becomes obsessed with his wife and with Patrick and it's all she can focus on. One thing leads to another and boom. You have a boring novel. Honestly, save your time and pass on this. It was beautifully written by I couldn't care less for the plot or the characters.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

What To Say Next

Buxbaum, Julie. What To Say Next. 8 CDs. unabridged. Books on Tape. 2017. ISBN 9781524709518. 

Compelling, uplifting, and utterly engaging. Bestselling teen author, Julie Buxbaum (Tell Me Three Things) writes a charming opposites attracts romance between a popular young girl and a socially awkward and isolated young man on the autism spectrum. After Kit's father tragically dies, she finds herself receding and unable to keep up with the pressures of social life. Unable to deal with the mundane daily gossip and social climbing she decides to sit with David, an outcast, someone she knows will not pester her. Slowly and over the course of a few weeks the two find they have more in common then they could ever fathom. They begin to trust each other with secrets that they can't tell anyone else and Kit enlists David to help her figure out the exact reason her father died and the accident project is born. Little do they know how much it will complicate things. Wonderfully narrated by Kirby Heyborne and Abigail Revasch, both whom manage to bring their characters to life. Kirby has a flat monotone voice perfectly fitting the complicated character of David and Abigail narration is young and refreshing. Refreshing, honest, and charming. For fans of Rainbow Rowell and Jennifer Niven. - Erin Cataldi, Johnson Co. Public Library, Franklin, IN

Friday, August 4, 2017

Dying for You

I've never read any of Mary Janice Davidson's paranormal romances before and after reading this short story collection I think I'll be passing. They were cliche, cheesy, and practically written for kids (minus the sex scenes). Each of the four short stories was horribly predictable and flat. The romances were over the top, unimaginative, and lacking. There are two short stories about falling in love with ghosts, one about a witch hunter, and another about a vampire and werewolf falling in love. Honestly the short stories could have all even been shorter. I wouldn't have minded one bit.

Evicted

Utterly engrossing, this groundbreaking look at poverty and the fight to find housing in America's cities will forever change how people view homelessness and the oft told saying, "Just work harder." Harvard sociologist Matthew Desmond spent years living in the slum of Milwaukee to understand how deep the problem went and to experience first hand how the nation's poorest are living. Desmond discovered that poorest people were/are spending more than EIGHTY PERCENT of their income trying to find housing, and what they get isn't even substandard. In big cities like Milwaukee, Landlords know there is little to no incentive to clean places up when they can just evict a tenant for complaining and find someone else who is desperate enough to live in squalor. Eye opening and horrifying, Evicted follows six different people, poor black mothers in the ghetto to white trash junkies in trailer parks as they tackle the housing crisis dead on. No matter how hard to struggle to get ahead, the system is rigged against certain demographics, the main being African American women. The amount of research put into this is staggering, as are the implications. Desmond ends with suggestions on how we as a country can come together and end this crisis. After all, doesn't everyone have a right to a roof over their heads?! A must read social justice piece that sheds poverty in a new light.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Behind Her Eyes

There is a slow build up, a couple of unsurprising twists and then one hell of a gut punch at the end. It's no wonder people have been talking about this ending! It's slightly out of the realm of just straight thriller, there is a little tiny droplet of supernatural edge to it (nothing more extreme than lucid dreaming).  Per usual I buy everything hook, line, and sinker at the book which only sets me up for the fall. But honestly, I don't mind that, not all. Louise is a single mum working as a secretary in London and she has the worst possible luck. She finally meets a man at the bar and it turns out that it is her MARRIED new boss at work. Once they get past the initial weirdness they re-start their affair but things get weird when Louise makes a new friend. Her boss's wife, Adele. It happens completely by accident, but now she finds herself dependent on both of them. However, things are not what they seem with Adele. What is going on behind those eyes of hers? Pretty good thriller, kept me entertained and guessing!

Monday, July 31, 2017

You Will Know Me

I really really got into this book, but it just lost steam towards the end and I hated the conclusion. But the suspense, intrigue, and heartache leading up to that point really did grip me. In a nutshell this is the story of a mother so wrapped up in her daughter Devon's gymnastic's career that she doesn't notice when things start to fall out of place. She and her husband have been their every step of the way for their exceptionally talented daughter and have been grooming her for the olympics along with their coach and other Belstars parents and teammates. Even Devon's little brother Drew is okay with always being overlooked consistently because he knows how important his sister's rise is. Everything starts to come apart when one of the coach's boyfriend is tragically killed in a hit and run. It begins to tear at the gymnastic community and then slowly starts unraveling the mother's tight knit family. It started off so solid, I was bummed that the end couldn't keep up. Some twists, turns, intrige, and a crappy ending.