Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Feel Me Fall

If Lord of the Flies and Hatchet had a literary love child, this would be their baby. Gripping from page one, this book is impossible to put down and I easily had it finished in two sittings. A plane full of students and teachers on their way to a field trip in South America goes down over the Amazon and there is only one survivor. Emily Duran is wrecked with guilt and haunted by what went on in the jungle. In between nightmares and exhaustion she slowly starts to recount her harrowing trek to recovery, how the group of six survivors slowly narrows down until she's all that's left. Teamwork didn't come naturally to the ragtag team of survivors, especially since they are all from different social high school "orders." There is the jock, the stoner, the mean fat girl, the two best friends (Emily and her best mate Viv), and the weirdo who just so happens to be a survivalist. Instead of working with each other to survive, they start to turn on each other with disastrous results. Not only are the animals, rivers, and food potentially deadly, but now they practically need to sleep with one eye open. A heart pounding thriller that doesn't ease up until the astonishing conclusion. A wonderful read with a great twist!

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 :)