Thursday, June 21, 2018

Calypso

I haven't picked up a David Sedaris book in ages and I'm soo glad I did, this was legit laugh out loud funny, irreverent, and at times somber. I didn't listen to the audiobook but I could still her his unique voice in my head as I read which only added to the hilarity. His short essays spanned from the seriousness of his sister's suicide and mother's alcoholism to a deformed boxed turtle and shopping for "unique items" in Japan. His family is uproarious and odd and I feel like we should be best friends. I love his sister Amy (who gets mentioned frequently) and everyone else sounds like jolly good fun. I know I'll laugh just as much when I read this the second time around some day. A wonderful new addition to the Sedaris collection, such a talented humorous author.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The Red Ribbon

Sometimes I steer away from Holocaust fiction because there is so much of it and sometimes it's too much to take in. It's like reading misery porn and at a certain point you have to take a breather. The Red Ribbon is a young adult novel that focuses on a little known bit of Auschwitz lore, the sewing studio. The commandant's wife is a fashionista and she decides that she  may as well put some prisoners to work crafting her stylish new outfits and tailoring her clothes. The officer's wives get jealous and soon she opens it up to them and expands the workshop. Fourteen year old, Ella lucks into working in the studio and tries to lose herself in her work so she doesn't have to observe the hellhole around her. At least she's making pretty things even if they are going to monsters. Her only other distraction is a quirky young girl named Rose who spins the most delightful stories and always seems to have her head in the clouds. Although annoyed by her at first, Ella soon realizes how important it is to have hope and keep dreaming and they soon become inseparable. Although not explicitly graphic, this book doesn't shy away from hard truths either, it's a nice middle ground that young adults can read without being "too horrified" while still being informed about atrocities.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Ella

I just can't hate this series. Try as I might to despise Amish fiction, this adorable, quirky, and wholesome little Amish fairy tale series has warmed my cold black heart. I just love it! Ella is the second in the series and is loosely based on the Cinderella fairy tale. Complete with the cruel stepmother, rude stepsisters, and playful mice it has a few interesting takes as well, instead of a glass slipper there is a pie contest, there is "magic," the fairy godmother is a kind lady in the congregation, etc. It's disgustingly wholesome and clean and I still loved it. I can't wait to read Sadie, the Amish take on Snow White and I hope there are more in this series!

Monday, June 18, 2018

The Shack

I don't normally read books on theology but this was on The Great American Read list so I HAD to get to it. It wasn't an awful read, I loved the narrator who really made the whole sad story sound homey and comforting. Mackenzie Phillips isn't in a great place in his life. After the brutal disappearance of his daughter and the strain it placed on his family, he's hardly equipped to deal with religion, he's just going through the motions. One day he receives an odd piece of mail, a note from God telling him to meet him at the shack (the last known place his daughter was at), and against his better judgement he actually goes. What transpires there in that shack changes his outlook on life, his attitude, and his spirituality. This book questions your beliefs on God, Jesus, the Holy Trinity, the afterlife, the what ifs and many other questions, especially the classic; "why do bad things happen to good people?"

Surface Tension

I LOVED Mike Mullin's Ashfall series so I knew I had to check out this stand alone teen novel, especially since it was in such a different direction from his last series! One thing they have in common is strong male leads that are fast thinkers, and are sarcastic, witty, head strong, and resilient. Jake finds himself in an impossible situation, he witnessed an act of terrorism and now the terrorists are out to get him, only nobody believes him (except for his super wealthy, super awesome girlfriend who mostly believes him). He's trying to stay one step ahead of them, but it's practically impossible to do when you're a broke teenage boy in Indianapolis with only a bike to your name. Alternating with his fast paced story for survival is Betsy's story. Betsy is a terrorist, she' trying to make her dad proud and if that means she has to kill Jake then so be it. Alternating perspectives really help flesh out the story and spell out the "whys?" of the story. Well written but super super unbelievable. No teenager is outsmarting terrorists like this, it was a little over the top. If you can suspend belief then you will love this novel, if not? You should probably pass on it.

The Kiss Quotient

I haven't read a romantic comedy in a while so I was excited to check out The Kiss Quotient because it had been receiving a lot of buzz! A successful businesswoman obsessed with her job in economics becomes frustrated and scared at the prospect of dating and sex. It doesn't help that her mother keeps pressuring her to find a man and hinting that she ants grandchildren. Stella decides that her Asperger's is getting in the way of relationships and she vows to get more practice so she can find a man and not scare him away. She decides to hire a male escort to show her the ropes in the bedroom and to give her tips on dating and small talk. To each of their surprise they hit it off perfectly, and soon her "training" is stretching out, it's almost as if they're really dating. She's all in, but her sexy male escort has some skeletons in his closet. Pretty sexy and mildly explicit, fun, and fresh. A nice beach read.

Three Dark Crowns

One of the most unique teen fantasy novels I've read in a while. Three triplets with special abilities are born to the queen and on their 16th birthday they must fight to the death to see which will become the future ruler. The three sisters are raised apart from each other by people who share their talents; Mirabella is an elemental and seemingly the strongest of the sisters, Arisnoe is a naturalist and has so far been unable to develop any of her talents, same goes for Katherine, the poisoner, she too is helpless at her craft. Their time is running short, they must soon face each other and see what damage their talents can afflict, wonderfully written with one hell of an ending. I'll definitely be reading the rest of the series!

Monday, June 11, 2018

Kitchen Confidential

I'm sad I waited until after his death to read this wonderful culinary memoir. I was hooked from page one, this was an amazing and impossible to put down book. Bourdain pulls back the curtain on what is really happening in kitchens and it's fascinating, scary, and very exciting. It's not all fun and games, it takes dedication, thick skin (physically and emotionally), endurance, and skill. Filled not only with his journey into the culinary belly of the world, this memoir also dishes on what days to order meats and seafood, how to tell if a restaurant deserves your business and many other useful tidbits that I would never have known in a million years. He is also very real about his vices, addictions, and drugs found in virtually all restaurants of the world. Superbly written, witty, and engaging this memoir is not just for foodies, it's for everyone. Sad we lost such a great personality, but his voice will live on through his books and on his shows.

The Comedown

This is a great sweeping literary novel in which every chapter is from a new character's perspective, which is innovative and fun, but also a lot to remember. All the characters are bound together by two yellow suit cases filled with money (supposedly), but could just as easily be filled with bricks and packing peanuts. When Leland Sr. walks off the top of a building he leaves behind two families and lots of questions. They've all heard the lore about the suitcases, but where are they? Set in the underbelly of Detroit this saga covers decades, fleshing out the plot story by story. Ultimately, it was a little too literary for me. There was times I just couldn't get into it even though the writing was superb. Interesting, just not always compelling for me.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Jaws

It's been a decade or so since I watched the movie, so this book was still full of surprises and suspense. It was genuinely good and it makes me want to re-watch the movie something fierce! Compelling, humorous, full of small town hopes and aspirations, second chances, and second guesses; Jaws is much more than a "horror" novel. At the center of the story is Brody, the police chief of Amity, a beach community with a population 1,000 in the winter and 10,000 in the summer. After the human remains of a missing swimmer are found, Brody tries to close the beaches. Shark attacks are a serious business and he's never seen anything like this! The community in an outrage declares the beaches need to stay open for tourism and Brody reluctantly agrees. Amity becomes a nightmare. A young boy and an old man are eaten on that first day and soon others follow. They're not dealing with an ordinary shark. Brody will need all the help he can get to take of this beast haunting his town's waters!

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Timequake

“Many people need desperately to receive this message: 'I feel and think much as you do, care about many of the things you care about, although most people do not care about them. You are not alone..” This book is about a disruption in the time continuum, but at it's heart, it's soo soo much more. It meanders it's way through reminisces of war, a childhood spent in Indianapolis, ex-wives, family members, science fiction, dark jokes, and so much more. Vonnegut is the master at spinning a tale which seemingly takes the reader through a wandering labyrinth, only to discover at the end that it weaved a beautiful web in the process ("some pig" indeed). Describing this book is a fool's errand. Just read it because it's Vonnegut and it's quotable and funny and dark and wonderful. So it goes.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Ghost

LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this book!! This small middle grade book is impossible to put down, even for a adults! Castle is your not so average seventh grader. His mom is raising him the best she can after his violent father was locked up and Castle can get himself into trouble. One day killing time after school, he stumbles on a track team practicing near his house and next thing he knows he's drafted on the team. He's a black kid from the wrong part of a town and he's trying to prove himself.... to himself. But even though he can outrun a lot of his problems, he can't outrun himself. A wonderful novel and I can't wait to read the rest in this series!

For Everyone

Loved, loved, loved this short little poem/letter/advice book. As the title suggests it's truly for everyone regardless of where you are in life. It's an encouraging note of affirmation that we all have dreams and we all deserve to have them. Unlike self help books this slim volume isn't telling readers how to act, think, or believe. It's reaffirming what we already know is deep inside of us and letting us no that we are not alone and we are not failures. It's beautiful, heartfelt, and utterly quotable. This is perfect for everyone and is a book I will return to again and again.

Charlotte's Web

I feel like I read this as a child, but I legit can't remember! I've certainly seen the movie and remember the general plot, so who knows. I may have read this in my youth, I may have not. Either way it was a delightful re-visit to a children's classic. This version was made even more enjoyable since it was narrated by the author and he did a wonderful job with the accents and pacing. It was truly a fun read. If you're one of like five people that has never read or seen Charlotte's Web, it's the tale of a pig who befriends a barn spider and in an effort to save him from the ax, she starts writing marvelous things about Wilbur in her web. It's a wonderful story of friendship, farms, and family. Still delightful half a century later, this will always be a family classic!

Atonement

This book is SOO descriptive! I honestly thought it pulled away from the story a bit. The first third of the book dragged on and on and I was bogged down with the descriptive details of every outfit, thought, vase, drink, and more. It definitely picked up in the second part but I wanted to quit reading long before I got there. In essence, this book is about a young sister who is a total jerk and joy-kill. She does something unforgivable and awful that impacts those closest to her and it has a ripple effect throughout the whole book. I wanted to like this, but I just couldn't get past the flowery pose. I bet the movie is better!

The Road to Magnolia Glen

A misunderstanding has Kiera Young and her two younger sisters almost sold into a brothel upon their arrival in the new world. Thankfully, a fellow Irishman aboard their ship, saves the day and whisks the girls off to Breeze Hill Plantation where his brother resides. Unluckily, the Young Irish lasses may not be as safe as they think even though they are far from port. Quinn and his brother do all they can to keep the girls safe, but suddenly Quinn's heart is in danger. He finds himself falling for Kiera and has to rethink what his future has in store. Is there room in his heart and his home for this troubled, beautiful young girl? A little bit of danger, intrigue, romance, and inspiration are tucked into this novel. Although it's the second in a series, it features different characters and reads easy as a standalone.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Just Let Go

If more inspirational (christian) books were like this, I 'd probably read a ton more. It was gorgeously written and even though you know where the story will end, readers will have an enjoyable time getting to the conclusion. Set in a charming Michigan tourist town during the winter (ie the off-season), this slow burn romance captures all the butterflies, setbacks, misconceptions, and and wrong turns that eventually entwine the two main characters. Quinn has just bought the towns floral shop, and she's excited to renovate and re-open the store that her mother once owned. Grady, a reckless thrill seeking skier ends up getting stuck in this tiny town for five weeks while he does community service. On the surface they're horrible for each other, but their hearts don't know that. They slowly start to open up to each other and go outside their comfort zones to confront issues in their past in hopes that it can pave the way to their future. Charming and cute; this inspirational romance will win over many. It's the second in a series, but I had no idea and it didn't hinder the story for me in any way. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The Outsider

I was hooked from the get go - this wasn't King's standard horror fare, it was more thriller/mystery with a touch of supernatural to it. I also LOVED that is tied in a little with the Bill Hodges trilogy! Holly, one of Hodges amateur detectives at Finders Keepers assists with this puzzling case. The Outsider opens with a beloved family man and little league coach getting arrested in front of his family and fans at a baseball game. He is charged with kidnapping, murdering, and raping a little boy. But he swears innocence. He swears he was hours away at the time of the murder; but if that was true he would have to be lying. But... maybe he's telling the truth and really was in two places at once. What if there is more than meets the eye? Filled with amazing characters (King is THE BEST at creating real, average, believable characters), a fast paced story line, and an interesting puzzle. Another great book from the master of horror!

Sunday, May 27, 2018

The Godfather

Freaking loved this! I've always loved the movie so I don't know why it took me so long to check out the book! I was super impressed with how closely the movie followed the book as well! I'll definitely be reading the rest of the books in this series. I also had the good fortune of listening to the audiobook version which is narrated by a full cast! Complete with Italian accents! So good, I didn't want to stop listening! This book follows the Corleone family and the lengths they take to stay in power as one of the most powerful mafia families in New York City. It's dirty, compelling, raunchy, deep, twisted, and filled with an entire cast of unforgettable characters. If you loved the movie, you will love the book!!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

What Every Body is Saying

Pretty fascinating book. I'm pretty good at reading other peoples non-verbal cues but HORRIBLE at realizing what my own are. I'm sure I'm the most expressive person ever and I'm sure my body language betrays me all the time. Reading this book just helped me understand why we act and move the way we do even though we're not even aware we're doing it. Each chapter breaks down a different section of the body and how to speed read someone's mood, tell if they're lying, nervous, happy, or uncomfortable based off subtle body movements. I learned the most on the section about feet, they're one of the most expressive parts of your body and also one of the most overlooked. Feet placement can be very indicative of a person's true emotions. Overall an interesting and enlightening read; full of information that I've already started putting to use.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Ryan's Crossing

The second book in an inspirational series; this installment focuses on Ryan, Amber's brother. Astonished to see his sister again after so long, he is initially guarded. How did everything turn out so well for her? She was a runaway for years and now she's getting married and marrying into the nicest and most genuine family Ryan has ever seen. Also, his parents and younger brother Keith seem pretty content and may also settle down in the same small town of Crossing. The turmoil of his youth is forgotten and he seems unsure of what to do. Should he stay in his paramedic job a few hours away or should he move closer to family and make up for lost time? It doesn't hurt that his sister's new sister-in-law is the most gorgeous and caring beauty he's ever seen. Will God show him what path to choose?

Monday, May 21, 2018

Crossing Values

Amber never stays in any place long, she's been fleeing for years trying to forget her past. When she arrives in the small town Crossing, Oregon her past starts to catch up on her. Offered a job and room and board for secretarial work, she gets a warm welcome from a boisterous and loving family who are determined to help Amber find peace with her past and with God. She slowly starts to open up to this welcoming family and starts to find herself drawn to their son Luke. There's only one problem, he's already got a gorgeous and accomplished young lady by his side. But God works and mysterious ways and as the holidays approach she lets her guard down and might actually be able to open up about what she's running away from. Can she trust these people? Do they have ulterior motives? Does Luke feel the same way about her as she does about him? How does God play into all of this? A quick inspirational read that is the first in a series.

The Mothers

Small secrets can fester and grow and have a ripple effect that will last far longer than anyone ever could have anticipated. After the loss of Nadia's mother, high school becomes unbearable. She cuts loose, flirts, stays out late, anything to pass the time. When she meets Luke, the pastor's son, the world seems to tip back on it's axis and everything is right again.That is, until the pregnancy. She makes a decision to abort the money and although he doesn't want that to happen he gives her the money and then abandons her at the abortion clinic. Their high school romance dissolved, Nadia goes her own way and Luke his... until they meet up again years later. Is something still there? Is the secret still haunting them. Bennett does a wonderful job creating flawed characters who readers will try to root for even though they continue to make the wrong decisions. A great book club selection.

Made You Up

There aren't many teen novels that deal with mental illness in a positive, educational way which makes this book even more important. The book centers around Alex, a high school senior suffering from schizophrenia. Having been kicked out of her last school for defacing the gym she is sent to a new high school and as part of her punishment she has to join an after school athletic club. Alex finds herself making friends but more often than not she's not always sure what is real and what is a figment of her imagination. Are these friendships real or are they fake? Miles, the head of the club soon becomes one of her fixations. Does he really have a German accent? Why do people call him a Nazi? Can she trust him? A hopeful, honest read about mental illness and the power of friendship.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Silence of the Lambs

One of my top five favorite books of all time. This is probably the fifth or sixth time I've read this book and the first time I've done so by listening to the audiobook and I was pleasantly surprised by how enjoyable that was. It was narrated by Kathy Bates who did a wonderful job! FBI student lucks out when she is asked by Special Agent Crawford to do a special assignment for him; he wants her to go visit the infamous serial killer Hannibal Lector and get him to take a psychological survey to add to the database of known serial killers. Crawford would go himself but he's got his hands tied with Buffalo Bill, a serial killer that's been skinning his female victims. When Clarice goes to the maximum holding center to interview Hannibal she gets an unexpected gift from the madman himself, a tip about the Buffalo Bill. Suddenly Clarice finds herself in the middle of a serious investigation aided by Hannibal Lector. It's dark, twisted, thrilling, and a non-stop action ride. I think the movie is a GREAT adaptation of the book. Read this already!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

You Think It, I'll Say It

Sittenfeld, Curtis. You Think It, I'll Say It. 6 CDs. unabridged. Books on Tape. 2018. ISBN 9780525527794. 

New York Times bestselling novelist, Curtis Sittenfeld (Prep, American Wife), switches gears with her first short story collection. Comprised of ten compelling and unique stories, this audiobook will draw readers in with its deeply flawed and deeply human characters that aren't soon forgotten. From a newlyweds on their honeymoon, to an unhappy housewife, to a young volunteer, to married acquaintances; each short story explores the reader's assumptions and initial reactions and then flips the script. Sittenfeld humanizes the seemingly mundane every day lives of her characters, making them fallible and relate-able. Exquisitely narrated by Emily Rankin and Mark Deacon; their strong engaging voices perfectly capture the many different characters. Rankin especially inserts charm, cadence, and vulnerability into her characters; making them even more real and accessible. A superbly narrated, standout collection of short stories with mass appeal. - Erin Cataldi, Johnson Co. Public Library, Franklin, IN

Small Country

Heartbreaking and powerful, this slim novel packs a powerful punch. It was an enlightening read about a horrific time. I am familiar with Rwanda and the genocide that happened there in the nineties but I was unfamiliar with the neighboring country of Burundi and the violence that erupted there around the same time. It's a coming of age story about a young boy who see the world changing around his very eyes and tries to make sense of the senseless violence. I can summarize it any more beautifully than the author: "Every day in our world, we hear the terms “migrants” and “refugees,” but we forget that behind these words, there are names, dreams, and voices. This novel is a long poem about one of those kids, from a distant conflict, who finds his own words to tell his name and his story. And I hope also that the readers can discover Burundi because this is one of the first novels to talk about this small and relatively unknown country."

Thursday, May 10, 2018

The Pisces

File this under, holy smokes what in the hell did I just read?!?!? I am a sucker for bizarre novels and let me tell you, this one takes the freaking cake. For being so odd, it was superbly well written! The one second summary is that this is MERMAN. EROTICA. Yes, you read that correctly. Lucy is at a stopping point in her life. She's been dumped by her boyfriend of two plus years and her dissertation on Sappho is going nowhere. She's simply existing and it's not enough. After being picked up by the cops covered in donut crumbs and clothed only in her nighties, her older sister convinces her to come to California and house sit for the summer. Lucy reluctantly agrees to watch her gorgeous house, take care of the dog, and attend group therapy for women going through relationship crises. Therapy isn't helping much but the dog is. One night Lucy is sitting by the ocean when she spies the most gorgeous young man out for a swim. Every night they talk and things slowly gets sexual. When she finally discovers why he never comes out of the water she isn't even fazed. At this point she is so infatuated she doesn't even care that she's boning a merman. It escalates in absurdity and hilarity. What is love? Is it lust? Can you lust a merman? All burning questions. Do yourself a favor and read this gem!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

So Close to Being the Sh*t, Y'all Don't Even Know

This book was a damn treat! I feel like I'm in the Parks and Rec Book Club because I HAVE TO read all the books they write. I'm so glad Retta joined their ranks because this book is a roller coaster of amazing. There is some real heartfelt shit in there, but it's also so down to earth and funny. I straight up felt like she was my best friend after this. Each chapter is an essay about some aspect of her life; from her addiction to designer bags, her newfound love of Hockey, making it as a black female comedian, growing up poor, cutting loose in college, the joys of being lazy, her love of television, to her struggle of finding amazon sized footwear (girl we wear the same size, the struggle is real!), this entire book is funny and relatable. After reading this book I instantly had to follow her on all social media (what have I been doing with my damn life?) and I coaxed my boyfriend into getting me tickets to see Hamilton (well... he's gonna try to anyways). Retta waxes poetic about the Broadway play, Hamilton, and it was better than any theater review I've ever read. I love, love, love this book!! I'm including a picture from my book club when we discussed Aziz's book and I had Parks and Rec cookies made; I wish I still had that Donna Meagle cookie!



Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Red Queen

I haven't got invested in a young adult series in a while but I think I will definitely continue on with the Red Queen series. This is a new dystopian fantasy series that is inventive and unique enough to set itself apart from Hunger Games and Divergent (although there are some clear parallels) and yet remains cool enough to be added to those ranks. In Mare's world society is divided between the reds and the silvers. The silvers are the high class people who have special abilities to wield fire, read minds, control water, manipulate metals, and more. The reds are the lower caste, the ones who still bleed red, have no powers, and have been oppressed for decades. Mare's world is turned upside down when she is sent to work in the palace. She has lived in abject poverty her whole life and to see such prosperity and wealth is sickening to her. Mare is secretly rooting for the Red Dawn, a terrorist organization trying to overthrow the silvers and when she discovers that she has silver powers and red blood (a totally anomaly) she finds herself in a rare position to help others and overthrow the silvers once and for all. Engrossing and fun. I can't wait for the next in the series!

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Red Dragon

It's been a few years since my last re-read and I was definitely due. The Hannibal Lector trilogy is literally one of my all time favorite series and it ALWAYS holds up. It's still just as amazing as the first time I read it. Thomas Harris is wonderful at getting in the minds of serial killers and making a wonderfully complex game of cat and mouse. Will Graham hasn't worked for the FBI in years. Not since he was almost fatally stabbed by Hannibal Lector, a sociopath who ate his victims. Will has a special skill set, one that has helped in track down more than a few serial killers, but all he want's is a break. Special Agent Jack Crawford won't let that happen though. There's a terrifying serial killer nicknamed the toothfairy and he's already killed two families. They need Will's insight to find and stop this madman before he kills his third family. And Will isn't sure he can do it on his own, he may need consult Hannibal to help get to the bottom of what is making the toothfairy tick. Dark, demented, and impossible to put down; this is always a must read!!

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Spiderman/ Deadpool: Serious Business

I'm so glad this volume went back to being good because I was seriously disappointed with volumes 2 and 3. The shtick in this one is "no more jokes" they go old school slapstick (for a while) as they deal with the real life Slapstick who isn't so much as a bad guy, but someone in their way. There were some pretty good pop culture references in this one (Westworld and Dolph Lundgren) which perked me up as well. Spiderman is miraculously no longer antsy and the bromance is alive and well as this team partners up to get shit done.

Spiderman/ Deadpool: Itsy Bitsy

UGH! Officially my least favorite release!! How can you mess up Deadpool?!?!?! This "volume" is missing 11, 12, 15, and 16. I don't know if those issues were by guest writers (featured in volume 2) or what. This storyline is also a bit confusing? Why is Deadpool's face beautiful again? When did Spiderman get so angsty and ANGRY? I don't know. Too many questions. This volume has the dynamic duo trying to stop this spider girl from killing too many people and Spiderman is determined to KILL HER rather than stop her and it's tearing him apart and Deadpool has to save the day. Some witty banter but that is about it!

Kim Reaper

I had high hopes for this one, but it really fell short for me. The illustrations are great but the story-line and immaturity were too much. Even though this graphic novel features two college students, I feel as if it's aimed at middle schoolers. The cheesy jokes, absurdity, all of it was over the top. I definitely liked that it had a diverse group characters and the protagonists were gay, but I still couldn't come to care for wither of them. A college girl falls for the cutie in front of her, who happens to have a side hustle being a grim reaper for pets. The two of them start to fall for each other and overcome some weird ass obstacles in hell. Meh, great illustrations, just not my thing.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Spiderman/ Deadpool: Side Pieces

This collection of comics takes quite a detour from volume one. While it does still feature everyone's favorite friendly neighborhood Spiderman and Deadpool there is no continuous narration of story like in volume one. This volume (two) features five comics that were written by guest authors and illustrators and they are all wildly different stand alones. From a 1960s throwback to Penn and Teller to a Christmas spinoff and more; this collection is on the bizarre side. Some of them tried a little too hard and fell flat for me, such as the one where they are making a Deadpool movie in Hollywood and Spiderman decides to tag along as assistant producer. Lots of pop culture and actual movie references aside (Ryan Reynolds...) it was a little too over the top. It was still a fun and off the wall collection, but I personally prefer when Spiderman and Deadpool get to take it slow and have more than single issue comics. They're bromantic!

Because I Am Furniture

A dark and empowering book of prose that captures what it's like to live in an abusive household. Anke is the only one not receiving her father's "love" and she should be grateful. The love that he doles out on her brother, sister, and mother is horrifying. He's emotionally, physically, and sexually abusive to them all; Anke is unnoticed, always in the background. She knows she should be grateful or speak up, but she doesn't want to be the one to tear the family apart. Things start to change when she joins the volleyball team. She starts getting stronger, filling out, and finding her voice. Suddenly, what her father is doing to her family seems even worse. What would happened if she used her voice and confidence to help her family? Written in beautiful, lyrical poetry this young adult book about abuse will horrify readers and inspire them to speak out when they  witness something. A definite conversation starter.

Monday, April 30, 2018

The Bell Jar

Wow.... What a profoundly beautiful and haunting book. The prose, emotions, and imagery are out of this world; it's truly a groundbreaking rally cry for mental health and feminism. I'm disappointed that it took me this long in my life to get around to reading such a classic, but I do get a sick sort of satisfaction that I'm reading this book at pretty much the same age as Plath was when she committed suicide. I'm sad she never saw this book published, although the notoriety of her suicide I'm sure helped propel this book even further since "The Bell Jar" dealt with depression and suicide. I feel like this book is a right of passage for young women. It's like "Catcher in the Rye." This book captured depression so completely and realistically, that it is honestly is making me a little depressed right now. "The Bell Jar" centers on a 19 year old college girl who seemingly has it all; she's in New York after having won a fantastic magazine award with twelve other young ladies and even though she has nothing bringing her down, she can't even bear to be complacent. Her depression grows more enveloping until her only solution is to try to get rid of it completely, by killing herself. Wow. A heavy, depressing, important read.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Kind is the New Classy

Cameron Bure, Candace. Kind is the New Classy. 5 CDs. unabridged. Zondervan. 2018. ISBN 9780310352297.

Celebrity Candace Cameron Bure's (Full House, The View) latest inspirational title discusses the power of living graciously and how developing one's faith can assist readers on the road to kindness. Each chapter delves into an area of life that women can improve on with a little more kindness; friendship, family, decision making big and small, and discovering purpose. In a society that has such conflicting ideals, Candace seeks to help readers discover God's true purpose for them and encourages readers to dig deep and discover truths that too often are kept buried. Kindness not only improves the lives of those around us, but it drastically improves the one giving it. A little kindness can have a ripple effect into the lives of others and Candace strives hard to make that clear though personal testimony and God's word, that kindness is truly the new classy. Expertly narrated by the author herself, Candace's sweet and charming tone leaves no doubt that's she's smiling and laughing her way though this great narration. This latest self help novel will find a large audience not only among her fans, but within church groups and women's bible studies. - Erin Cataldi, Johnson Co. Public Library, Franklin, IN

The Broken Girls

This awful cover art almost turned me away from what was, really, a very good book. It was suspenseful and the way the story unfolded with two story-lines between 1950 and 2014, keeps the story engaging and at the end of your seat. I was really impressed with how the author kept a few pretty complex story-lines together without confusing readers and pulled all those loose threads together at the end, for a pretty compelling and chilling ending. Idlewild boarding school for young ladies is not a nice place. It's dark, foreboding, and many say it's haunted. In 1950 four roommates are convinced there is a ghost haunting them and the grounds. She goes by Mary Hand and you can't let her in. They're not alone, decades of girls before them have written about and passed on legends about the haunting of Mary. In 2014, a journalist is appalled to discover that the long vacant Idlewild boarding school has been bought and is being restored. In the nineties the journalist's sister was found found brutalized and murdered in the athletic field and the place has haunted her ever since. During construction, the crews find the body of a teenager in a well, but it's not new, it's decades old. She decides she has to research and write this story. There is too much tragedy at the boarding house to be a coincidence. Fast paced and impossible to put down!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Head On

Holy cow, what an amazing follow up! I read this bad boy from start to finish in one day because I was so hooked! Head On is the follow up to Lock In which I adored a few years ago. I didn't give it a re-read before reading this and I thought I would be a little rusty on all the particulars but I was not. Win! John Scalzi continues to dazzle with his complex and brilliantly detailed worlds. This novel picks up not to long after Lock In, and follows FBI agents Chis Shane and Leslie Vann as they try to get to the bottom of an athlete's death. Hadens (or those with lock in syndrome) don't generally get to be star athletes due to their robot bodies (called threeps). However the sport of Hilketa involves violent matches with threeps so it's perfect for Hadens. Even though it's a violent sport, it's safe since those playing are really locked in, in their beds, but one day a player dies and it's up to Shane and Vann to get to the bottom of it and figure out if it was an accident or if there is something else sinister going on. Fascinating and fun, world building at its best! I can't wait for the next in the series!!!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Lost Stars

I don't know why I was surprised this was so good, but it was a damn solid tie in to the star wars universe. And even though it's labelled young adult, I think it reads above that. This book about two nobody kids from an outer rim planet bonding together despite their differences to embrace their love of flying. They decide to join the empire together to bring honor to their families and to fly in the greatest fleet the galaxy has ever seen. As children they easily bought into the empire's lies but once they make it through the academy and start serving as officers they see first hand how destructive and manipulative it is. Eventually Thane can't take it anymore and deserts, swearing to never join the rebel alliance, because to him they are just as bad. But as the war churns on, he realizes what the rebels are trying to save. Ciena on the other hand, keeps ranking up in the empire. She's not happy with everything she sees going on but on her planet you never break an oath, so she continues to serve despite her better judgement. These two friends become star crossed lovers serving on opposite sides of the war. Through their eyes you see the construction of the death stars, hear of the heroics of Han Solo and Luke Skywalker, see the battle on Hoth, and so much more. It's a lot of fun viewing the original trilogy through two young set of eyes on opposites sides of the war. An AMAZING tie in.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Angela's Ashes

I haven't picked this book up since middle school, but damn, it was still as powerful.Frank McCourt recounts his childhood in the Irish slums with such tenacity, hilarity, and vividness; that you feel as if you are there with him. Only an author such as McCourt could make such a trying, poverty stricken, childhood into a story of strength and humor, and belief. As a child he grew up having to accept handouts because his father was a drunk and would drink away whatever little work money he was able to get. Due to the family's malnourishment and lack of proper housing; Frank lost three young siblings to illness, and spent his entire childhood hungry and in and out of hospitals. Despite all that he was able to look towards the future and worked hard to save money to go to America. He used his brains to escape the poverty cycle and Angela's Ashes is just the first of his memoirs. There are others (that I have not read yet) that recount his life in America, his teaching job, and his adult life. A wonderful memoir, and if you get a chance, listen to it. The author narrates it himself and you won't want to miss out on his Irish accent and singing of bawdy tavern songs.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

My Lady's Choosing

This was a fun freaking read. This is an adult choose your own adventure for women. You get to play as a penniless heroine who must choose between a sexy kilted Scotsman, a sultry brooding widower, and an infuriatingly handsome noble; trouble and adventure are around every corner. Where will your path take you? It's laugh out loud funny and full of super steamy scenes (if you play it right you can sleep with all the eligible men!). Inventive and fun, I hope they make more interactive novels for adults, but honestly this is a great start. I didn't try to find every possible ending, but I did play it through four times with equally raunchy results. Nostalgic and hilarious!

Caraval

This book seemed an awful lot like "The Night Circus" but for young adults. It wasn't bad, but it didn't quite tickle my fancy. It was a little too fanciful, over the top, and nonsensical. Nothing quite added up. What was part of the "game?" What was magic? What was death? What's the point? Caravel is basically a magical 5 day event where participants are invited to solve the game or riddle to win a wish. It's invite only, there are no rules, and participants don't know what's real or not. When Scarlet gets invitations in the mail she's excited, but knows there is no way she can go. She's due to marry a man she's never meet in two weeks, plus their father will NEVER let her and her sister leave the island. But then her younger reckless sister, Donatella, won't take no for an answer and whisks them off the island with the aid of a young sailor. When they arrive at Caraval, Donatella mysteriously disappears and Scarlet must solve the game to save her sister. The only trouble is, she has no idea how to play. Whimsical and unique. I don't know if I like it enough to continue with the series though.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Two Girls Down

Pretty solid thriller, kept me guessing until the end. My only major beef with it, is that you have a hard time telling who is the narrator. It switches constantly; mainly between Vega and Cap (two private investigators), sometimes the mother, and sometimes it inexplicably switches to third person. It was a little odd to say the least. The two private investigators are trying to find two little girls who were abducted out of a parking lot. For Alice Vega, finding missing children is her specialty (although more often than not they're dead by the time she finds them); she flies out from California to help assist in the investigation. Cap on the other-hand, is a local. He used to work with the cops but after a scandal that resulted in a man overdosing and dying in his cell, he resigned and has been working as a private investigator; catching cheating husbands and skips. When Vega enlists him to help with the missing girls, he isn't thrilled, but quickly he gets back into his element and they start putting pieces together and start catching leads that the police aren't. Are the girls alive? Why would anyone abduct them? Are there more missing girls? Overall it was a fast paced read.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Tales of India

Not only was this a fun read; it was lavishly illustrated and bound, making it a truly gorgeous book. It's colorful, contains a beautiful purple ribbon as a bookmark, and has sixteen traditional folktales from India. Not just from one culture, tales included are Bengal, Punjab, and Tamil Nadu. They are all interspersed into three sections: animal tales, outwitting and outwitted, and life and death. They vary in length, but all are fascinating and completely new to me. A wonderful collection to diversify your library and educate readers on Indian folktales. All the stories contained were completely new to me and entrancing, a wonderful collection!

Deadpool: Isn't It Bromantic?

I love that rapport between Spiderman and Deadpool, it's funny, relevant, and highly inappropriate irreverent; the best kind of fun! Deadpool is secretly obsessed with Spiderman and keeps tagging along even though he's not wanted. He uses his time schmoozing up to Spiderman and trying to find out more about his boss, Peter Parker. Deadpool has received a hit on Peter Parker and keeps wondering how such a good guy like Spiderman could work for an evil guy like Peter Parker. Laugh out loud funny and ridiculous; this is a fun read and a promising start to a series. I can't wait to continue with the rest of the series.

Circe

Definitely in my top three for 2018. This book was a slam dunk! As a teenager I went through an obsession with Greek and Roman mythology, watched Troy CONSTANTLY, and read the Odyssey multiple times. But as I aged, I guess my love and passion for mythology faded. Circe brought all that back and then some with beautiful writing that weaves together forgotten mythologies and gods and prophecies. Circe tells the story of an often overlooked goddess and spins it into one of the most compelling, feminist epics out there. To be quite frank, I had forgotten Cicre, daughter of Helios. For most, Circe's most memorable tale is how she turned Odysseus' men into pigs; she was famed for her witchcraft. Ironically, that tale is just a small footnote in her immortal life, not even one of the most astonishing things she did. This book pieces together her entire mythology and turns it into one of the most enjoyable adventure stories I've read in forever. A must read!!

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

In Conclusion, Don't Worry About It

This was a perfectly adequate, mildly encouraging and uplifting book. It's Lauren Graham's commencement speech with random little drawings (I hope a kid drew them!). Personally I've listened to (and read) better more empowering commencement speeches, but this one wasn't bad (just not great). She uses her acting career (specifically her theater carer) to illustrate the highs and lows of life. The only people who will read this are fans of the actresses work, which is ok. I don't see this being a big graduation gift, but I could be wrong. Again, a little meh, if you want to read; get it from your local library.