Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Gwendy's Button Box

A short creative read by the "King" of horror. It's not what I was expecting, it's not scary but it's a little chilling and a little haunting. The novella opens with Gwendy running up the "suicide stairs." She's going to be entering the seventh grade soon and she's determined to lose her baby fat. At the top of the stairs a gentleman all in black sits on a bench. He introduces himself and beckons Gwendy to come over. Against all her instincts she does and he presents her with a beautiful little button box. One button when pressed will produce a small chocolate animal that satisfies the eater, another produces silver coins. The ones in the middle represent every continent and there is a black and red one as well. To press those is to cause calamity. Of what sort, Gwendy does not know. The man gives Gwendy the box as a gift, for it will change her life in wonderful ways, but it is also a huge burden, and over time it's all she can think about. What would happen if she pushed those other buttons. Can she keep her curiosity in check?

On the Road with Janis Joplin

Before reading this all I knew about Janis was: her nickname was pearl, she died young from an overdose, and I've heard like 4 or 5 of her songs. Basically I didn't know diddly squat. Some of the reviews have been unfavorable towards this book because readers feel as if the author talks too much about himself. Personally, I liked that. He validated how he knew Janis and he had an interesting life as well! He was her road manager through all three of her bands and he knew her as well as you could know her during the musical part of her life. They weren't always best buds but he was there for her through thick or thin and I think this book was an excellent chronicle of her musical life. I learned so much about her talent, her prowess, and her loving freespirited nature. I won't lie I even got choked up at then end even though I knew it was coming. A life cut short. What a shame. A great read that inspired to sit on the porch, drink, and jam out to her music.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

This is What a Librarian Looks Like

I will admit that I am a little partial to this book because I'm one of the librarians featured in it, BUT that is not the only reason by a long shot! Kyle Cassidy has done an insanely impressive job compiling the essence and passion of librarianship into one beautiful coffee table book. Over 300 librarians from all over the world are featured and all have a gorgeous photo accompanied by a quote or statement on what being a librarian means to the. Some are wordy and eloquent, some are moving, and others are passionate pleas. Also included are mini essays from Kyle about different libraries and librarians, as well as essays from bestselling authors like Neil Gaiman John Scalzi, George R. R. Martin touting how libraries and librarians have helped their lives. A wonderful book that deserves a spot in very personal and public library. What an honor to have even been involved in this.

Oh Joy Sex Toy

A wonderful outside of the box read that had me hooked. Oh Joy Sex Toy is a comic collection of reviews on sexuality, sex toys, birth control, the sex industry, and virtually anything pertaining to sexuality. It breaks down sexual orientations, reviews the pros and cons of sex toys and how to use them, gives practical advice for dating and relationships, discusses the sex industry with porn stars, pole dancers, and more. This collection is wonderfully illustrated, masterfully written, and has never been needed more. It is open, honest, frank, down to earth, and instructive, there is no shaming or judging about lifestyle choices or preferences. I wish I would have had this book back in the day (not that I didn't find this useful now, i'm a grown ass adult and I learned PLENTY from this!) and I hope it finds a wide audience. I don't think the second volume is out yet, but I will absolutely be reading it when it's published. This was wonderful!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Mercies in Disguise

Kolata, Gina. Mercies in Disguise: A Story of Hope, A Family's Genetic Destiny, and the Science that Rescued Them. 7 CDs. unabridged. 8.5hrs. Recorded Books. ISBN 9781501945366. 

Narrative nonfiction doesn't get much better than this. Gina Kolata, a New York Times science reporter, brilliantly brings a family's harrowing medical crisis to life and tells the story of how a brave young daughter decides to reshape her future and put an end to the genetic disease that had been killing off her family for generations. Kolata researches the history of the mysterious disease while concurrently telling the story of a loving family in a small town that appears to be harangued by bad luck. When the patriarch of the family dies under mysterious circumstances, his sons take matters into their own hands, trying to track down the mysterious disease and piece together their family tree to see what the future may hold in store for them. Compellingly narrated by Andrea Gallo who doesn't shy away from hard medical pronunciations and foreign names. Her soft, yet endearing voice provides a wonderful reassuring and authoritative voice. A wonderful read, even for those not interested in medical or scientific nonfiction. - Erin Cataldi, Johnson Co. Public Library, Franklin, IN

Of Cats and Men

Gorgeously illustrated, this neat little hardback would be a great gift for the cat man in your lives. Filled with short biographies (1/2 a page) of cat men throughout history, quotes, and amazing illustrations this is an informative, beautiful, and heartfelt little book. I wouldn't mind owning some prints pulled from this book. Included are bios from Andy Warhol, Jean Cocteau, Nikola Tesla, Ernest Hemingway, and other impressive men from history, an interesting mix of authors, artists, and scientists. A cute, informative read that would make a good stocking stuffer. I absolutely loved it and would love to see more from this author/illustrator!

Marlena

Wonderfully haunting, and engaging; Marlena will appeal to both readers of young adult and literary fiction. Alternating between Cat's year in a new town, befriending the neighbor girl Marlena, and present day in New York City where she's struggling to maintain her married, working life without spiraling back into alcoholism, this book is exquisitely and beautifully rendered. Even though Cat finds herself being reckless and hero worshiping everything Marlena does from trying drugs to smoking to drinking and cutting class. Pulled from her fancy prep school and stuck in a small town with her older brother and newly divorced mother, Cat decides that it doesn't matter what she does so she wholly commits herself to Marlena and her scheming. Full of drugs, boys, school woes, teen angst, and true friendship, this book was appealing and haunting as you root for Cat and Marlena to grow up and leave that life behind. A wonderful book.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Small Favor

Man this series doesn't stop getting good!Jim Butcher knows how to keep it engaging by mixing in new and old characters to keep readers on their toes. There is so much character development, plot, imagery, and all around badassery. I have nothing but positive things to say about the tenth installment in the Dresden Files. Mab calls in a favor that Dresden is bound to assist with and he's none to happy about it. He has to find and bail out his nemesis, the crime lord Marcone. If that weren't bad enough there are some majorly bad demons in town. Last time he barely managed against a handful, now there are more than a dozen in town. Good thing Harry Dresden is used to going up against horrible odds. I can't wait for the next one!

The Gunslinger

This epic fantasy classic has been on my to read list for ages and I'm finally motivated to read it after seeing the movie preview. I know this is only the first book in the dark tower series but based off the movie preview there must combine quite a few of the books to get the first movie. Basically The Gunslinger introduces the two main characters to the series: The Gunslinger (Roland) and The Man in Black. The gunslinger is following the man in black across a long wasteland of a desert and trying to avoid the traps left behind by the man in black (quite unsuccessfully). The gunslinger is determined to track down and kill the man in black, but not before he gets answers. The two are from another world in another time, and besides the dark tower they are the only remnants of where they are from. As the gunslinger follows the man in blacks trail readers get a little back story on his past as he tells it to the people he encounters. He eventually finds a kid in the desert and together they set off to cross the mountains, right on the man in black's trail. It's kinda heavy, very literary, and leaves you with lots of questions. I guess I'll have to read the next one in the series.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Brave is the New Beautiful

Generally I avoid Christian self-help books, especially if they're written for and by women. Because I'm judgmental and sometimes I can't take much of the sexist, hippie dippy fake empowerment. But... every once in a while a great book comes along that makes me forget about all the self righteous mumbo jumbo I've read and makes me believe that books in this "genre" aren't all bad. This is one of those books. It was an incredibly quick and empowering read and it was never over the top. Blum did a wonderful job relating to readers that bravery comes in all forms and it's not just the public heroics that matter. Sometimes getting out of bed is brave. She shares her stories and stories from countless other women, some of which are truly heartbreaking. I teared up more than once reading this, especially the last few chapters. At the end of each chapter there are some reflection chapters which could be done as a self reflection or in a group. Honestly, it wouldn't make a horrible book club selection. I was pretty impressed with this, I'll actually keep it and re-read it. It makes you think of the world a little bit differently and reflect on yourself in a more positive light.

I received this book for free from Litfuse in return for my honest, unbiased opinion.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Milan Miracle

This book wasn't what I thought it would be and I think I loved it even more for that. Based off the title I naively assumed that this would be about the 1954 Milan team that inspired the movie Hoosiers, but instead it focuses on Milan High School's current basketball team (2010-2011) and the struggles they face. Since the introduction of the class system in 1998 and even before that Milan, ceased to be the basketball powerhouse that it once was. Bill Riley follows the coach, the team, and the town for one whole season and tells of the ups and downs they face. It's a gripping high school basketball story, one markedly different then the legendary team that most people associate with Milan, but it doesn't make it any less important. Basketball is king in Indiana and books like this are just another reason why it will always remain that way. A wonderful read and I'm not even a sports junkie or basketball enthusiast.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Goodbye Days

One of the most beautifully written and heart wrenching teen novels I've read since John Green. With one little text, Carver accidentally kills his three best friends. Trying to cope and process the guilt and the sorrow is near impossible since his best friends are gone. He relies on his older sister but soon she's going back to college and soon he'll have to face everyone at school. He slowly becomes friends with the girlfriend of one of his deceased friends and together the two of them try to make sense of what has happened. Jesmyn makes music and Carver tries to return to his writing but his heart's not in it. Trying to do the mundane, every day tasks can be excruciating. While working on college applications, Carver write "One day I wrote a text message that killed my three best friends... Sure I've written a few stories here and there, but my masterwork was a two-sentence-long text message that ended three stories. I'm the only writer in the world who makes stories disappear by writing." To top it all off Carver might be facing accidental manslaughter charges because of the text. Beautiful, heart-wrenching, an absolute must read!

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in return for my honest, unbiased opinion.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Dead Little Mean Girl

I was such a huge fan of The Awesome (Eva Darrow's first book) that I had to get this one as soon as it came out. While it wasn't as good as her first novel (the bar was set too high), it was still pretty damn good. This teen novel opens with a nerdy girl finding her quasi step-sister laying face first dead on the garage floor wearing a skimpy hula girl costume. From there we get the complete back story leading up to the death from Emma's perspective. Emma was a shy, nerdy girl who liked blending into the background. After her parent's divorce her mother starts dating a woman who has a daughter the same age as her, when things get serious they all move in together. Quinn is a holy terror. Pretty, popular, and vindictive she is the typical mean girl. Emma tries to play nice but soon the two become mortal enemies. Quinn keeps upping the ante and trying to screw everyone over. After a blow out fight Quinn is left dead and Emma finds herself feeling.... remorse? An interesting take on regret, bullying, and mean girls. A laugh out loud funny, heartfelt young adult book that should be required reading for teens. I loved it.

Crack Money with Cocaine Dreams

I've been on an urban fiction/ street lit kick and while this fit the bill, it was poorly written so I couldn't quite lose myself in it. There wasn't much character development but at least the plot was decent. I think my biggest beef was that I couldn't quite connect with any of the characters. The story mainly focuses on the virginal coke queen of Staten Island. Messiah is 18 and comes from a very rich family. She could do nothing the rest of her life and be covered but she wants to put her brains to the test and make better weed (for her father's drug empire) and better coke (for hers). She's seeing a deadbeat boy but she gets the feeling that he's just hanging around her for the money and lifestyle. When she runs into Rasheed, a drug mogul and family man taking care of his niece and nephew, she discovers what it can be like being with a real man. There are some other players in the story but it mainly focuses on those two. It ends on a major cliffhanger but I don't know if I have it in me to finish out the series. Filled with drugs, hustling, designer clothes, and drama this book will appeal to those that like street lit.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Paper Girls 2

I may have honestly liked the second installment more! I love the older Erin! When the remaining three girls realize that they've been thrown forward in time, the first person they run into is an adult version of Erin. In 1988 there were no i-phones and flat screens and compact cars,and the girls are constantly in awe of everything, even though they think adult Erin is a little cray cray. Older Erin helps the three paper girls track down where their missing friend might be as well as help them figure out how to get back into their own timeline. Fun and different! I can't wait for the third one!

Paper Girls

I've seen this graphic novel pop up time and again but I didn't have the faintest clue what it was about. A teenage gang? Dystopian babes? Angry moms? It's really about a bunch of teen girls (under 15) who have paper routes and when something mysterious happens they band together to figure out what in the hell is going on. Long story short - aliens! alternative timelines! futuristic mumbo jumbo! It's all fun and games until one of the four paper girls (KJ) is taken away in a space ship after she's accidentally been shot. It's funny, unique, and wonderfully illustrated. My only beef is that they look waaay older then they actually are.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Thug Legacy

The title alone intrigued me and I will admit I was hooked from the get go. I haven't read much street lit/urban fiction. The closest I've gotten was Zane's "Addicted" and that definitely did not take place on the streets (just in the sheets), so I didn't really know what I was getting myself into. Thug Legacy is focuses on the younger generation of Legacy, Inc., the gang that runs the drugs in Chicago. Told through alternating perspectives of the hustling young thugs and their ladies, Thug Legacy focuses on the relationship they have with each other and their reputation in the streets. All the men have side bitches but are looking for or trying to keep their main bad bitch. Not one of the men in this book keeps his dick in his pants. NOT ONE! But the ladies are used to that kinda shit. They don't love it, they rage about it, break up with them, and make back up because they know that they're number one. Half of the bitches end up pregnant at some point (to the surprise of no one) and the men begrudgingly decided to make it work to protect their seed (no joke they kept referring to their children as their seed, over and over again). The story flows pretty well even though there are over a dozen different perspectives to read through. Lots of sex, drugs, respect, and relationship drama for sure. At the end there is a HUGE cliffhanger. So obviously you have to read the next one.... I know I will :)

Sunday, April 30, 2017

American Gods

Though it's size may be intimidating, this book was even better the second time I read it. Honestly, I liked it the first time I read it six years ago, but this time I really LOVED it! I kept seeing all the new trailers for the Starz TV adaptation and I knew that I had to re-read this before I saw it. The concept of this book is just insanely bad-ass. What happened to all the old gods that immigrants brought to America for thousands of years? They brought their beliefs, religions, and gods and slowly they stopped believing; trapping their old gods here. They're slowly dying out with no one to believe in them and they have a new enemy, the new american gods; greed, media, technology, etc. Shadow (a human) gets enlisted to help Mr. Wednesday as an errand boy and finds out more then he ever bargained for. He will help the old gods prepare to standoff against the new gods. Wonderful, witty, clever, and fucking brilliant. I love this book so much. I hope the show does it justice!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Everything Everything

Even for a teen book, I found this too cliche, unbelievable, and over the top. Madeline has lived her entire life in her home (complete with an air lock  and air filtration system) only having contact with her nurse and her mother. She suffers from a rare disease (skid) that makes her deathly sick to nearly everything so she must remain in her little bubble. Generally pretty content for a cloistered 18 year old, everything changes when she spies a new family moving in across the street. She falls head over heels for the hot neighbor boy and soon window gestures turn into IM'ing and eventually to secret visits while her mom is at work. The only thing Maddie has left to break is her heart, what is she doing?!?! Small twist at the end but you can pretty much see exactly where this book is headed. I don't even have any desire to see the movie.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Smells Like Weeia Spirit

The third installment in the Weeia Marshal's series is where the novels really seem to hit their stride. Danni Metreaux is finally in her element as the Paris Marshal, she knows the city, it's weeia residents and has gotten the hang of having a partner. Smells Like Weeia Spirit starts off with some unexpected guests. A Syrian mother and her two children have come to Danni seeking asylum, unsure of the protocol she houses them in her old apartment despite her bosses orders. Soon after that a weeia healer calls saying that someone has died under mysterious circumstances. To top it all off, a pushy headmistress calls and demands the marshals help with some weird incidents occurring at her elite weeia school. Danni and Sebastian can't catch a break, there is hardly any down time (although they do find some time for some delicious french cuisine). As if they didn't have enough on their plate there are odd reports of other weeias acting strange and showing off their superpowers in public. Are all these events related? Can Danni keep her boss and her conscious happy? Is the solution to their problems right under their nose? A wonderful installment and honestly probably my favorite one to date. Elle Boca goes above with her descriptions of Paris, the food, and their culture. Truly a pleasure to read and contains a nice little mystery.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Down Town

Great artistry and fun new story from Jim Butcher. I liked this graphic novel much better than the first one I read, mainly because some more of my favorite characters were in this one: Molly, Mouse, Marcone, his sexy vampire brother. They were all illustrated pretty close to how I figured them in my head and they talked and acted just like they do in the novels. A fun short little story with illustrations to back it up. I need to read all the graphic novels in this series!

Homesick for Another World

A bizarre collection of short stories, each more unique than the one before. From alcoholic high school teachers to creepy old neighbors to alien children, Ottessa Moshfegh's collection of short stories will intrigue you with it's dark humor, perceptive look into the underbelly of humanity, and wonderfully developed flawed characters. Storytelling at it's finest.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Strangers Tend to Tell Me Things

Dickinson, Amy. Strangers Tend To Tell Me Things. 7 CDs. unabridged. 9hrs. Hachette Audio. ISBN 9781478912514. $30.00. 

Amy Dickinson pulls the curtain back on her personal life and treats readers to a glimpse inside the life of the woman behind the world famous daily "Ask Amy" advice column. Finding it easier to give advice then it is to take it, Dickinson relates a deeply personal memoir about love, loss, and coming home to her quaint town of Freeville, New York (see her previous bestseller "The Mighty Queens of Freeville"). Poignant, emotional, funny, and relatable, "Ask Amy" writes a moving memoir that will appeal to anyone whose ever suffered through divorce, middle age, child rearing, aging parents, falling in love, and more. To err is human and Amy makes mistakes and hilarious mishaps (which she gleefully relates) so that her readers don't have to. Narrated by Amy herself, who brings poise, laughter, and personal experience to the telling of her story. For fans of women's relationships and memoirs. - Erin Cataldi, Johnson Co. Public Library, Franklin, IN

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Striptastic

For some reason I've always been drawn to sex worker's memoirs, prostitutes, strippers, pin ups, burlesque dancers; you name it. Jacqueline Frances second book (the first being a hilarious memoir) is part graphic novel, part stories, part tips, part everything stripper. She draws hilarious comics to go along with her sections, whether it's about the different kinds of tippers, the tools of the trade, stories from strippers all over the world, surveys, advice, funny stories, etc. It's a fairly quick, funny, delightful read and is perfect for strippers, friends of strippers, or anyone just plain curious about the stripping lifestyle. I can't wait to see what magic Frances comes up with next!

One Day We'll All Be Dead And None Of This Will Matter

I was hooked from the get go. Having just read Shrill and other memoirs by Jenny Lawson, Mindy Kaling, etc. this was the perfect fit for me. This memoir by Scaachi Koul, a first generation Indian immigrant living in Canada was heartfelt, hilarious, and impossible to put down. I read it in less than a day. I especially loved the stories about her parents and her zany yet loving, upbringing. I grew up close to a loving Indian family so I know a smidge about their culture, food, and festivals and Koul's stories took me back. Koul also talks about hard subjects like: rape, alcoholism, gender bias, growing up ethnic in a white neighborhood, and struggling with body image. Each chapter is filled with wit, wisdom, and lil' nuggets that will get you thinking. Definitely keeping around for a re-read.

Just Mercy

This was one of the most moving, heartfelt, and uncomfortable books I have ever read. I could not put it down. It angered me, it saddened me, it made me want to do more with my life. I knew aspects of the justice system; namely death row, racial inequalities, and juvenile sentences were broken, but I didn't realize how badly broken. This opened my eyes in a way nothing else has for a long time and it should be required reading. Bryan Stevenson has led his life helping people on death row get counsel, overturning hundreds of wrongful convictions, crusading for rights of the underprivileged and mass incarcerated populations of our society and is the type of person we should all aspire to be. He formed the Equal Justice Initiative in Alabama and has saved the lives of hundreds, if not thousands of wrongly convicted people. As he often mentions in the book, "I believe that each person is more than the worst thing that they've ever done." So simple and so powerful. The stories of his clients that he shares are heartbreaking and humbling and more than once I was turned into a sobbing mess. I cannot recommend this book enough.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Welcome to the Jungle

A nice quick read to satisfy the longing I get for more Dresden Files in between books. This short story takes place as a graphic novel which is kinda cool, but I also kinda didn't love it because I picture all the characters in my head very differently (which is why I haven't checked out the TV show yet). Harry Dresden is called in to investigate a mysterious death at the zoo. It looks as if the night guard was murdered by the gorilla but hings aren't adding up. How did the gorilla get out or back in for that matter? The guard emptied his entire gun, where are the bullets? Something is fishy and Dresden the finest (and only openly practicing) wizard in Chicago is on the scene to help out his pal Lt. Murphy. A Fun, quick read.

The Notebook

I will admit that I only vaguely remember seeing the movie when I was in high school, at a sleepover, and hopped up on Jolt Cola. I remember the kiss, the rain, and the end (which is different in the book!). With that limited knowledge in mind I picked up this quick read (I finished it in less than two hours) and had virtually no expectations. I'm not the biggest Nicholas Sparks fan but this book wasn't awful. Was it great? No. Was it way too good of a romance to be true?  Yes. But overall, it wasn't a horrible way to pass the time. An old man in a nursing home reads out of a notebook to an elderly woman every day, the middle of the book is the story contained in the notebook and it's book ended by the "present day" story of the old man. The story he reads to her is about ill fated romance and the rekindling of youthful love. It's emotional, slightly unbelievable, and good fluff. I think I prefer the movie (Ryan Reynolds, hubba hubba) but I won't know until I actually rewatch it.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Light My Fire

In high school I was a huge fan of The Doors and Jim Morrison's poetry, but I never really knew much about them. I knew that Morrison died young under mysterious circumstances and I liked the psychedelic beat they had, but I had never even seen the Oliver Stone movie version. Reading this book was enlightening. It's a memoir from the drummer of The Doors, Ray. He recounts his childhood, the forming of the band, and it's fast road to success. It's mainly about his relationship with Jim, the iconic front leader and superstar. It's well written, flows nicely, and tells of the group dynamics (or lack thereof sometimes) and only occasionally goes into bitter rants about Oliver Stone (he portrays Morrison as a raging selfish drink in his movie and Ray takes offense). Included are some pictures, some funny stories, behind the scenes on some of their most popular songs, and some truly deep insight. All around good music biography. It's honest, heartfelt, and got some serious groove.

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Yellow Birds

Wonderful, haunting, heartbreaking, chilling, compelling, and beautiful hardly begin to describe this novel. Literary giant, Tom Wolfe, described it as "The All Quiet on the Western Front of America's Arab wars." Powers paints a vivid picture of what it was like to serve as an American soldier in the middle east and then come back and deal with the trauma of what you've experienced. Chapters are told in non-linear timelines and the author goes back and forth, from before the war, during and after. It all leads up to - what happened to Murphy, the 18 year old soldier he promises to look after? The war scenes were graphic but I thought the most emotionally grueling was the trauma of coming home and trying to figure out how to live again. How to re-enter society and deal with all the hell he saw abroad, I really felt for him. Raw and gripping!

Fish Girl

As a child I was obsessed with David Wiesner's gorgeously illustrated children's novels (Jumanji, The Polar Express, Zathura, etc.) and as a teenager I was completely taken with Donna Jo Napoli's young adult books, especially since the majority of them were fairy tell retellings. I re-read Sirena (a book about a mermaid coincidentally) soo many times in middle school. When I saw that these two literary power houses had teamed up to write a graphic novel I knew I HAD TO READ IT! Fish Girl is by n means complex, but it's simplicity is wonderful and inspiring. Fish Girl lives in a giant aquarium by the beach and helps Neptune put on a show for the humans who come in from the boardwalk. It's a lonely existence and she only has her octopus and the fish to keep her company, if she's lucky Neptune will tell her a goodnight tale while she gathers coins at the bottom of the tank. One day a little girl sees her, really sees her and nothing is ever the same again. A wonderful quick read. I found it absolutely refreshing and wonderfully drawn.

Talking As Fast As I Can

A cute little memoir narrated by Lorelei Gilmore herself. In this relatively short (it may have seemed shorter than it was since she is such a fast talker!) memoir Lauren Graham talks about growing up, getting started in acting, her breakthrough role in Gilmore Girls, some good times on the set of Parenthood, writing her first novel and finally her return to Gilmore Girls. It's a fun beachy read and I definitely recommend listening to the audiobook version because her narration of it, helps make it seem more real and personal. Plus she's got a great voice and she's not afraid of breaking out into song. Her little insides to Gilmore Girls helps make me appreciate the show that much more. Slightly above other celebrity memoirs, but not by much.

The Zookeeper's Wife

Not set up as a typical fiction novel, this true story is pieced together like narrative non-fiction with imagined dialogues and thoughts. Even with that caveat it was still a wonderful story. A little disjointed in places, but overall the flow is great and the many pieces of this giant jigsaw come together with Ackerman's skilled writing. She tells the story of the Polish zookeepers who fight not only for their beloved animals but for those suffering around them in Nazi occupied Warsaw. Over the years they help shelter and feed hundreds of Jews and even allow some of them to reside in their house with their family. It's a touching story and I hope that they do the movie version justice.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Roosevelt's Boys

John C. Horst makes his historical fiction debut with Roosevelt's Boys, a saga of not only the Rough Riders, but the nurses and loved ones left behind in the Spanish War. While Roosevelt's Boys wasn't a huge departure from Horst's beloved westerns, he still manages to keep his distinct storytelling and penchant for creating impossibly likable characters. Told through multiple perspectives, two brothers head off to the Spanish War to fight for adventure and glory leaving behind a feisty fiance, a spinster sister, a Hopi farmhand, and a dour father. We are also introduced to three nurses; a nun, a black woman, and a beautiful German girl. These character's lives intertwine repeatedly throughout the story, although their experiences vary. By the end of the war, those who have survived have become different people; more hardened, loving, and eager to live life to the fullest. The "little war," though often overlooked, was anything but little to those who lived it. Horst does a commanding job of bringing his characters to life, fleshing out their histories, and giving them depth. It's clear that he also did a great amount of research because the attention to detail is staggering. It all ties together wonderfully in this hard to put down war saga. For fans of historical fiction, war sagas, and westerns, with a touch of romance to entice the ladies as well. Another home run for Horst.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Shrill

I LOVED LOVED LOVED this book! Literally I heart it soo much. It was very empowering, inspiring, and heartfelt and it made me think differently about myself, my body, and my gender. Lindy (and I'll admit I had no idea who she was until I read this book) does a wonderful job relating to the reader different instances in her life and her career that helped her become the feminist she is today. She talks about rape culture in comedy, abortion, body image, obesity, self worth, family, and more. She is a strong humorous writer and can make you laugh as easily as make you cry. Definitely a great book for women and those struggling with body weight, self confidence, and feminism. An all around win that I will definitely read again and recommend!

Monday, April 3, 2017

Virtue of Death

More romance than supernatural, this beach read will appeal to chick lit lovers and those who like a little bit of paranormal love sprinkled in their stories. Sera and her best friend Cheryl were turned into earthbound angels at the age of 18. While they mainly live normal lives (Sera owns a successful bakery), at night they spread their wings and fly (literally). Sera helps comfort people in their final moments and takes them to the other side, while Cheryl can perform miracles. They love their lives but it does make having a love life impossible. What guy would believe that Sera is unable to stay out at night?!? Despite her cozy existence Sera is lonely, her one romantic endeavor ended years earlier when she attempted to tell her boyfriend the reason she had to leave at night, as a result he had her committed to a psych ward for believing she was an angel. Being so burned Sera isn't looking for love, but it finds her anyway. When a local columnist reviews her bakery and only gives it a so so review she discovers that the journalist behind it is the sexy bachelor she just ran into at a wedding. One things leads to another and she finds herself falling head over wings. Is he the one? Can she ever make him believe the truth?

I received this book for free from the author in return for my honest, unbiased review.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

This is Your Brain on Sports

I may not be an avid sports watcher, but I'm certainly becoming an avid sports reader! I'm certainly a novice when it comes to the world of sports, I only know a little, but if you give me a good book to read or an inspiring sports movie I suddenly transform into the biggest fan. This book had me hooked, I will gladly be a little cheerleader for this book, it was utterly fascinating! From underdogs to the attractiveness of quarterbacks to professional athletes making bad coaches and the t shirt cannon. This book discusses the science behind so many things that we don't even really bother to think about. It's truly eye opening. I learned so much about rivalries, effort justification, hot headedness and more. Even though it's nonfiction, it reads easy and is never overwhelming. Each chapter discusses a new topic and there are plenty of charts and funny asides to get readers laughing and thinking. Loved, loved, loved this book!

I received this book for free from the Blogging for Books in return for my honest, unbiased opinion.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Buttception: A Butt Within a Butt Within a Butt

I didn't know a 34 page book could be soo inspiring and so over the top bizarre, but I should have known better because... Chuck Tingle. Buttception contains three "novellas" that are all loosely connected. I'll try my best to wrap these up (ha) quickly and neatly and convince you to read this in the process (because why wouldn't you?!?).

Anally Yours, The Unicorn Sailor
Tuck has just been dumped by his girlfriend and everything sucks until he spies a strapping male unicorn sailor on his walk. Before he knows what he's doing he goes over to talk to the unicorn and asks him to dinner. There is immediate connection and sparks are flying, but much to Tuck's dismay the unicorn has to leave that very night to set sail on a year long sea voyage. They promise to write to each other and they do. Their letters get more and more passionate, "Just below his signature, Hunter [the gay unicorn] has left the pink marking of his puckered butthole, pressed against the page in a perfect starfish after applying a liberal helping of lipstick." Finally they re reunited and have passionate gay unicorn sex on the beach. As a surprise the unicorn (who has suddenly become a billionaire) buys a private island for the two of them and the only other inhabitants are a bunch of worker clones who resemble the unlikely lovers.

Pounded in Butt by My Own Butt
Kirk is a scientist trying to replicate the success that the gay unicorn had in making working drones. After dozens of failed attempts and a mixture of his DNA, a hawk, and a piece of his butt he is finally able to create a clone! His gorgeous butt has beautiful wings and a great sense of humor. Kirk can't believe he's falling for his own butt. After one date they decide they want to try anal. Because who doesn't want to pound their own butt? "...I push my living ass down onto the bes and watch as he spreads his majestic wings out behind him. For a living butt, his physique is quite impressive and I laugh out loud when I realize that I'm only complimenting myself." They live happily after after.

Pounded in the Butt By My Own Book "Pounded in the Butt My My Own Butt"
Buck Trungle is sick and tired of being sick and tired. He's a lonely author that can't get out of the shadow of all the books he's authored. One day he discovers that he's getting sued, by his own book! Pounded in the Butt By My Own Butt just wants some recognition, how come the author gets all the credit? Where are his royalties? The two decide to meet up without lawyers to see what they can do. Instead they find themselves instantly attracted to each other. One thing leads to another and suddenly the author is boning hos won book. "...my book pulls out of me and I drop down onto the floor before him, kneeling in tribute before my alpha book lover.


Space Raptor Butt Trilogy

Some books defy explanation. I will try my damnedest to make sense of this insanely weird niche dino gay erotica masterpiece. If you're new to the game there is an emerging trend for dinosaur erotica, while mostly released in eBook format you can occasionally make regrettable print purchases on Amazon (which I obviously did). Chuck Tingle is a "writer who defined a generation with his sensual brand of homoerotic thrillers" (taken from the back cover). Space Raptor Butt Trilogy is one of his more "well known" works as it was nominated for a prestigious Hugo Award (it started off as a joke, but momentum took off). The trilogy consists of: Space Raptor Butt Invasion, Space Raptor Butt Redemption, and Space Raptor Butt Ascension. Each "story" (sorry for all the quotation marks, I can't help myself!) is roughly only 10 pages, this book is only 37 pages long so it makes for quick reading. I'll try to do my best to quickly break down each story:

Space Raptor Butt Invasion
Astronaut, Lance Tanner, finds himself alone on a distant planet due to budget cuts. Unbearably lonely, he first thinks he's hallucinating when he spies another space suit clad figure in the distance. When the figure comes over into the space station and takes off his helmet to reveal a raptor astronaut, Lance is initially worried but the two form a friendship that eventually turns into romance full of hot gay dinosaur sex.

Space Raptor Butt Redemption
Lance and his raptor lover return to Earth and immediately find themselves under scrutiny. A trial is set and Lance is charged with being too "weird" in space and receiving funding from an evil corporation that steals unicorn tears. The reality is, the people of Earth are afraid of interspecies romances. Lance brilliantly defends himself against a corrupt lawyer and when he wins over the crowd and the judge he brings out his raptor lover and they make mad passionate love on the courtroom floor for everyone to witness and marvel at. The judge even starts weeping it's so beautiful. "I'm here to make sweet, sweet love to this raptor and show the world that even in space, love and positivity and hope and openness conquer all. If you all want to shut down the space program because of this then so be it, I'll still be in my back yard trying to build rockets and getting pounded in the ass by my raptor."

Space Raptor Butt Ascension
Lance and his raptor lover fly to the raptor's planet to see if in the future the humans can move there since Earth is dying. On the way they discover a stowaway, the leader of a bad organization who just escaped from prison. When they arrive on the friendly dinosaur planet they are greeted warmly by the dinosaur president. Suddenly a commotion breaks out as the bad stowaway tries to wreak havoc on this new planet. Since the planet runs on love the only way for Lance and his raptor to save the day is to start having wild passionate sex in front of the president. "Orion approaches confidently with his prehistoric alpha male swagger, then climbs down on his knees directly behind me." The love they create (and splatter everywhere) saves the day and they have made new friends on a planet that can save humanity.

Ridiculously insane and over the top. So obviously you should read this and anything written by Chuck Tingle. Trust me, you won't regret it (much).

Mexico

I've been on a short story kick and was definitely in the mood for this. Some of the short stories in here were slam dunks and others were odd ducks, with rushed endings and bizarre plots. For example, the opening story is beyond bizarre and flirts with cannibalism, drug lords, and ancient Aztec gods. All of the stories revolve around Mexico City and many of the characters are Americans or whites living in the city, viewing it through their lenses. Most, if not all, are crime stories as they apply to every day people; teachers, painters, journalists, students, mimes, etc. A lot of gang violence, drugs, rival Narco leaders and more. Dark, gritty, unexpected, this was an interesting read.

I received this book for free from Librarything in return for my honest, unbiased opinion.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

1984

You know... I'm not entirely sure that I actually did read this as a child. I swore I did, but I think I may have been confusing it with "Brave New World." Reading this as an adult living in a Trump run country was extra terrifying and made the book that much more powerful. This is one of those classics that is absolutely timeless. It only gets better with age. One of the finest examples of a dystopian future that I can think, Orwell does a masterful job painting a bleak picture and casting a poor hapless soul as the protagonist. Winston is not quite happy with life under Big Brother. He goes through the motions but he wishes things were different, he has no freedom because - "Freedom Equals Slavery." I don't want to say too much more and spoil the plot, but suffice it to say that this is required reading!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Princess Diarist

My opinion may not be popular on this book but I'm going to say it anyways. I did not love this memoir. It was a little choppy, pretentious, and didn't even talk about the filming of Star Wars near as much as the description implied. We hear all about the affair with Harrison Ford but that's about it. The middle portion of the book is her diary she kept while 19 and it's very flowery, and waxes poetic about Mr. Ford. She doesn't even come across as likable as I wanted her to be. I'm sounding like a jerk now, talking ill of the dead, but this book just didn't do it for me. Maybe hardcore Star Wars nuts will love it, but me... meh. It doesn't make me want to check out her other books later. It's well written, I just don't care for her words.... because I'm a monster.

Kansas City Lightning

A fascinating look at Charlie Parker's beginning. I assumed (wrongly) that this would be a full biography of Parker's life, but it stops before he truly hits the big time. It traces his rice in Kansas City, his hoboing to Chicago and then to New York to see the world and prove his worth, and ends with his eventual return to Kansas City. Included are many pictures, interviews with his first wife and a wonderful array of Jazz history and culture so that the reader can gain a better understanding of how Parker created a unique sound all his own while studying the Jazz masters of the day. A wonderfully informative book that makes me wonder if it's the first in a series. I want to know about his rise to fame, not just the beginnings!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Haven

This was my first and most likely last Kay Hooper book. I didn't realize that it was in the middle of the series until too late, but really I wouldn't have known if not for goodreads. It doesn't matter if this was a standalone or a series, this book sucked. Character development was minimal, the plot was laughably bare, and too much of everything was obvious. I straight up did not care who lived or died in this. Emma Rayburn fled Baron Hollow when she was a teenager and ever since she's been plagued with nightmares and dark visions. Her special crimes unit (full of psychics and shit) sends her back to her hometown to uncover why she really ran away and while there a body turns up. Oh no! Ugh., I can't use anymore brainpower on this one. Soo not a fan!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Disaster falls

A heart-wrenching memoir of loss, grief, guilt, and pain as a father re-counts the tragedy of losing his eight year old son. What was supposed to be a fun family trip soon turned into a nightmare when their youngest son drowned while kayaking on the Green River. Almost numb with pain, the author recounts with clarifying and insightful detail the emotions (or sometimes lack thereof) experienced by him, his wife, and their only remaining child. Spanning over the course of a few years, this memoir is a glimpse into the tragedy that many families experience everyday. A wonderful, but heart breaking memoir that beneficial for everyone to read. Not everyone experiences grief the same way and reading this will help readers with that cold hard fact.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Things We Lost in the Fire

A fascinating, dark, and intriguing glimpse into the modern day lives of Argentinians. Told in short stories, Mariana Enriquez, brings the mundane, the dark, the unimaginable, and the supernatural to the forefront. Each story is unique; the characters flawed, questioning, and wholly real. From a haunted house, jealous friends, river monsters, to burning women. This collection is not for the faint of heart, but it is so very rewarding and beautifully written and translated. In the same vein as Stephen King and Joe Hill, these haunting short stories will have readers hooked and questioning. Definitely looking forward to reading more by this author.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Our Numbered Days

It's been a minute since I picked up a poetry book, but after having seen the viral video of Neil Hilborn reading his poem OCD, I knew I had to read more. He has a very evocative, brash, alluring style that I find most appealing and his poems cover a variety of topics. I very much enjoyed this collection, even though you can tell some are meant to be listened to, not just merely read. Reading this has made me inspired to fit some other poetry in, I need a good palate cleanser from time to time. I would definitely recommend this and his online videos to get a feel for his style and rhythm.

We Are Okay

I'm going to be completely honest, I initially picked up this book because of the badass cover. It's intriguing, I had to know what it was about. I discovered a quick read (like 2 hours only) about a young girl who flees her old life in California to start anew at a college in New York. Told in alternating timelines (the past summer and the current Christmas break); Marin struggles as her estranged best friend flies out to see her for three days. They haven't spoken since Marin fled California and questions need to be answered, relationships discussed. There is good suspense as the reader tries to figure out what actually happened to Marin and wonder as to what she's going to do with her life. This book also explores themes of homosexuality, art, independence, and family. All around a quick, good read.

Alone Together

An exceptionally well researched book that explore technology and the unintended effects it's having on how we interact with others and ourselves. Broken into two parts, the first half explores the robotic movement and the second half discusses networking online. I really wish there was a new updated edition (this was published in 2010) because so much has already changed. Advances in social media, online privacy (or lack thereof), and robotic developments. Turkle does a wonderful job discussing the pros and cons of our technological advancements and brings forth many soul searching questions. Is our morality changing? Our we becoming less satisfied with our lives? How do we present ourselves online?  Is social media what determines our happiness? Are we becoming more fake and competitive? Wonderful and depressing read, a little outdated even though it's only 7 years old, jus goes to show how fast technology is advancing!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Evil

Four siblings rule the hallways at their high school. Popular, beautiful, feared for their temper; the Bradens incite awe and wonder. But there is more to them than meets the eye. Kellen is the undisputed leader of the bunch, commanding and authoritative, the only one close to matching him in strength is his younger sister Shay who refuses to admit her strength. Caught in denial about how different she is, and soon caught up in a steamy romance, Shay has more on her plate then bargained for. A standalone paranormal romance featuring strong family ties, anger issues, a torrid love affair, and some soul searching. Narrated beautifully by Jorjeana Marie who does a masterful job relating Shay's inner turmoil and the Braden family drama with her smoky, sultry voice. Filled with teenage angst, romance, and paranormal eccentricities; this young adult novel is intended for more mature teens and could also be classified as new adult.