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.