Thursday, September 19, 2019

Long Way Down

Easily one of the best books I've read so far this year! Utterly compelling, impossible to put down, and packs one hell of a punch. This teen novel in verse discusses gun violence in such a way that leaves no room for argument, it demands to be heard and felt. Will's older brother Shawn has been shot and killed and it falls on Will to exact vengeance. He has to he has no choice. It's part of the rules.
1. No crying
2. No snitching
3. Get revenge no matter what
It's what his brother would have done. So he takes his dead brother's gun and heads to the elevator to leave the building and take out his brother's killer. But it's a long way down and he must pass seven floors. On each floor, a victim of gun violence enters on the elevator. Sixty seconds. Seven floors, Three rules. One gun.
AMAZING! Seriously can't stop thinking about this book. It's giving me the chills.

Dead Voices

Engrossing and wonderful, I adored this follow up to Small Spaces! The gang is back but this time they are on a new adventure. Ollie's dad has won a free ski trip for five at the newest ski resort in Vermont. Ollie and her best friends Coco and Brian will accompany Ollie's Dad and Coco's mom on the trip of a lifetime. On their way up the mountain the snow keeps coming down, and by the time they reach the top, Coco is convinced she has seen a ghost and they all know that they are completely snowed in. None of the other guests ventured out into the weather except for an odd ghost hunter so they have the entire ski lodge to themselves... except maybe they don't. Closets rattle, ghosts appear, and Mother Hemlock is after them. They soon realize that this trip will turn into a nightmare if they don't stop the ghosts and figure out what they're after. A lot of fun and will probably be genuinely terrifying for young kids. There are definitely some creepy elements in her. I hope there are more in this series!

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Furious Hours

I was captivated by this book! It's essentially three mini-biographies tied together with a common thread and the story is stranger than fiction. Furious Hours tells the story of a black southern preacher who had a bad habit of buying life insurance policies on friends and family members who would then "mysteriously die." Even though everyone knows he was responsible, he was a slippery man and the law couldn't seem to get any charges to stick. At the funeral of an adopted daughter (who "mysteriously died") the reverend was shot to death in front of 300 people. The story then switches gears to cover the story of the lawyer who defended the man who shot the reverend. The final profile in the book is that on Harper Lee, the famed novelist who wrote To Kill a Mockingbird. Lee, was fascinated by the case and thought that maybe she would try her hand at true crime writing to get her out of a slump. She spent years covering the reverends case, interviewing the lawyer, townsfolk, family members and more. But what ever became of her manuscript? Compelling and wonderful, this is a must read for fans of southern gothics, Harper Lee, and true crime. Hard to put down!

Monday, September 16, 2019

Five Dark Fates

Honestly, this was a pretty solid ending for this series. I didn't see who would ultimately wear the crown and my opinion changed after each new book; even in this one I was kept guessing until the end. Five Dark Fates is the fourth and final installment of the Three Dark Crowns series and finally solves the question over who will rule the island. You have the triple queens (who did NOT successfully kill each other as tradition decrees) and now the popular Legion Queen, Jules, a commoner born with insane gifts that not even the queens can match; fighting for the throne that no one really wants. You also have the friends, lovers, and consorts trying to get their piece of their pie (or more realistically, just trying to survive) AND the mist which is getting closer and closer to the island and murdering any who fall under its spell. There's a lot of action, a lot of excitement, and only a teensy bit of romance. Just how I like my teen reads to be. A pretty solid series from start to finish.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Ayesha At Last

One of my favorite Jane Austen spin offs yet, a Muslim Pride and Prejudice set in modern day Canada. Ayesha has set aside her dreams of being a poet so she can focus on teaching and paying back her uncle for the college loan he gave her. When her younger cousin has her dreams set on being an event planner she enlists Ayesha to help her... only to abandon her at the meetings, leaving Ayesha to pretend being her cousin, Hafsa. Khalid is a conservative Muslim and is willing to do whatever it takes to keep his mother happy. When she insists on an arranged marriage; his heart isn't in it until he realizes that Hafsa, the event planner, might be the one his mother is trying to set him up with. What ensues is a comedy of errors and heartbreak. A thoroughly enjoyable take on a classic storyline. Unique, playful, and romantic; Uzma Jalaluddin is an author to look out for!

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

A Gentleman in Moscow

I'm mad at myself for putting this book off for so long. I missed out on reading one of the most endearing and touching novels of the past decade simply because I thought the cover made it look "too literary." I'm a fool! Now that I am acquainted with the Count, I'm remiss on how long it took for me to make his acquaintance. This book spans decades and its scope is confined to the four walls of the Metropol Hotel in Moscow; but despite all that its depth, imaginings, and plot is perfect and transcends the small setting. Thirty year old Count Alexander Rostov has been cast out of favor with the Bolsheviks and placed on house arrest indefinitely. The good news is he can continue living in the luxurious Metropol where he has ample money, friends, and a handsome room. The bad news is they take his room, most of his possessions and cast him in one of the smallest rooms on the sixth floor. Determined to make the best of an unfortunate situation he establishes a new routine and soon befriends most of the hotel's staff and repeat customers making the most of his new home. When a young girl of six is placed as his ward his whole world shifts and he begins to see the Metropol in a whole new light as the staff treats the young lady as one of their own and embrace her and the Count as family. Descriptions don't do this novel justice. It's beautifully written and filled with some of the best characters I have ever met on the written page. Utterly charming and may make my top 5 books of 2019.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Park Avenue Summer

Initially I wasn't jazzed to read this, I don't know if it was the cover or the description "Devil Wears Prada meets Mad Men," but I went into this book completely meh. Three and a half hours later I had a completely different reaction, I was head over heels. I started by reading a chapter and then... I couldn't stop. I literally bailed on plans so I could sit and read this book in one setting. I simply adored the main character Alice Weiss and her vulnerability and indecision; her tenacity won me over. Alice moves from the country into the big bad city of New York. It's the sixties and she is convinced that she will be able to make it as a photographer. She calls up one of her mother's friends who doesn't give her any hope on the photography front but does set her up with a secretarial job to one of the most controversial and revered women in the country, Helen Gurley Brown, the editor of Cosmopolitan magazine and author of the book, Sex and the Single Girl. Alice is swept away in helping Helen tackle the fools at Hearst convinced that no woman can run a magazine and who are determined for the whole venture to fail. Alice gets so wrapped up in the magazine, her boss, and her new "Don Juan" that she slowly starts to lose her aspirations for photography and her vision for the future. A wonderful read and journey into 1960s New York publishing scene.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

They Could Have Named Her Anything

Jimenez, Stephanie. They Could Have Named Her Anything. 9 CDs. unabridged. 10hrs 57 mins. 2019. Brilliance Audio.  ISBN 9781721367283. $34.99.

Debut author, Stephanie Jimenez, doesn't pull any punches in this arresting coming of age novel. Wealth, racism, and privilege duke it out in this powerful young adult story between two unlikely friends. Maria comes from a close knit family in Queens down on their luck financially and Rocky comes from the Upper East Side where she uses her money as a shield from family drama. Together they attend an elite girls school and find themselves drawn to each other. Their budding friendship is riddled with questions and boundaries as they navigate unexpected jealousy that threatens to tear them apart. What happens when you want something so bad that you'll stop at nothing to secure it for yourself? Family and friendships pale in comparison to the deepest unspoken desires of both Maria and Rocky and the choices they make will effect far more than their friendship. Brilliantly  narrated by Almarie Guerra, who gives the young girls authenticity and youthful naivete. Sincere, at times uncomfortable, and always authentic; this teen novel will appeal to readers of all ages.  - Erin Cataldi, Johnson Co. Public Library, Franklin, IN

The Unhoneymooners

This book made me LOL in real life. It was so freaking cute and witty; I read it in one afternoon and couldn't put it down. I loved the banter, I loved the characters, and I loved that even though you know exactly what's going to happen you can't stop reading because it's so much fun. When Olive is forced to go on a luxury honeymoon with her worst nemesis, her brother in law, Ethan. She isn't exactly thrilled. I mean she's pumped for the free drinks, snorkeling, and views; but gross, she has to share it with a guy who literally can't stand the sight of her. After the world's most revolting wedding where everyone except Ethan and Olive gets sick from fish (yay for shellfish allergies and buffet phobia!), Olive's twin sister INSISTS that she take the free honeymoon she won since she reuses to let it go to waste. What could wrong. A cute romcom that was delightful from start to finish. An excellent beach read :)

Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune

This book was charming and made me SOO HUNGRY. Seriously my stomach kept growling the whole time, that is how good Roselle Lim's descriptions are! When Natalie comes back to San Francisco it's not to celebrate. Her mother has just died and she needs to come to arrange the funeral. As the only surviving family member Natalie must wrap up all the affairs, but those hardest to wrap up ,are the affairs of the heart. Natalie and her mother hadn't spoken in 7 years after Natalie ran away to pursue her dream of being a cook when all her mother wanted for her was to stay at home. When Natalie come home she see how down and out her little part of Chinatown is, if only there was something that could help rejuvenate it... When Natalie discovers that her mother owned not only the apartment but the whole building including the small restaurant below, she thinks that maybe she can continue her family's legacy. Paired with the magical recipe book of her grandmother's she is set to change the luck of those around. Cute, charming, and filled with amazing recipes. A nice fluffy read :)

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Death Warmed Over

I apologize in advance for the two stars. It wasn't that this book was horrible, or written by an illiterate ape, I just didn't like it. It wasn't my cup of tea but that doesn't mean that it won't be anyone elses. I don't know if I wasn't in the right mood or what, but I was very meh about it all.Death Warmed Over stars a private investigator who has recently come back from the dead as a zombie. Not only does he have to investigate his own murder, he has a full caseload as well. From a vampire too scared to leave his own home from a witch who was turned into a pig because of a typo, Dan Shamble has his arms full. Funny and witty, perfect for fans of Charlainne Harris and other "punny" paranormal mysteries.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

The Legacy Letters

A bundle of letters, a dying man, hope for his family's future and his legacy. Estranged from his pregnant wife and found to be with terminal cancer; a lost man finds peace in writing out his hopes dreams, advice, memories, and thoughts out to his unborn children. His wife doesn't know that her husband is ill, she doesn't even know that he found out she was pregnant. So when she gets the first letter months after his passing she is flabbergasted. She didn't even know he was sick, there is no chance for a reconciliation or for him to meet his kids. In reality, he saved her from pity and from forcing her to forgive him because of his circumstances, he wanted her to remember him as he was.

The remaining letters, poems, and songs won't be given to her or their kids until their tenth birthday and they have no idea how much the letters will impact the rest of their lives. Each letter contains some nuggets of wisdom, humor, and memories. It's clear that their father put his heart and soul into the 200 letters he wrote in less than a year. Even though his clock was ticking faster and faster, he doesn't speed up or rush his letters. They are full of tenderness and nostalgia. He's trying to impart what he can on kids he'll never meet. From appreciating the seasons, traveling, falling in love, turning 18, appreciating music, and respecting nature; they are all written from a rugged romantic rancher extracting what beauty he can out a bleak situation. Even though this reads as non-fiction, the letters and the story are in fact, fiction, but don't let detract from the message and the lessons. A wonderful book that readers won't soon forget about.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Small Spaces

Legitimately terrifying and this is a kids book! Small Spaces slowly draws sets the scene, develops the characters, and then drops them into a slow boil of terror. I loved it. I couldn't put it down. When Ollie goes on a field trip to a local farm with her 6th grade class, she begins to find the parallels with the farms history and the creepy book she's reading unsettling. Ollie had stolen the book the day before from a distraught, crying, woman who was hell bent on destroying it. Ollie couldn't abide for a book to be damaged so she ran off with it and the more she read from it and the more she sees at the farm, she realizes that she could be in serious danger. Scarecrows ring the farm and seem to be keeping a special eye on her. As they're leaving the bus breaks down in the mist and Ollie knows she has to act fast before whatever is happening to the farm happens to her. Genuinely amazing. The characters are wonderful, the threat real, the scarecrows scary as hell, and the friendships precious. I can't wait to read the next one! I'll recommend this to everyone. It would make a great movie!!

Wilder Girls

Dark, ominous, and creepy, this young adult book about a deadly disease ravaging an island secluded all girls school will give you the heebie jeebies. Cut off from the rest of the world they are told to stay within their quarantine if they want to stay alive and hope to get a cure. The tox affects each girl differently, it could be scaly skin, massive body sores, a second spine, a ravaged eye, or even death. Over half the girls, most of the teachers, and the local wildlife have succumbed to the tox. It's been 18 month and the food rations are getting less and less. What happens when the government stops sending food? Will they die on this godforsaken island? Hetty has grown numb to the everyday nothingness in the school. She has her two best friends Byatt and Reese to keep her sane but when Byatt goes missing, Hetty must decide if she's worth breaking the quarantine from. Gory, creepy, and unique. A new take on the horrors of isolation, disease, and starvation.

The Girl Who Lived Twice

Honestly, this series has not disappointed me. There's nonstop action, complex storylines threaded together, and badass characters. Lisbeth Salander is not the sole focus of this novel, as with the other books, she shares the spotlight pretty equally with her friend, the famed journalist, Mikael Blomkvist. Lisbeth has been focused on taking out her family and ridding the world of their evil presence, she's located her sister in Russia and nothing is going to stop her from finally ending it all. Blomkvist on the other hand is wrapped up in a little mystery, that at first, doesn't even seem worth his time investigating. A homeless man found dead on the streets with no identity, the police can't identify him using dental fingerprints, or DA so Mikael is trying to reach Lisbeth to help him identify the man. The trouble is, when she doesn't want to be found, she won't be. Soon enough their separate "tasks" end up crossing wires and they are in each other's business whether or not they want to be. Intriguing and unique, although I could have gone with a more drawn out ending. It seemed to wrap up so quickly! I wonder what they'll get into next!

Friday, August 30, 2019

Pumpkinheads

A cute, albeit mildly underwhelming, story about high school crushes taking their chances before it's to late. Josiah and Deja have worked at the "world's best" pumpkin patch for the past three falls. They're super tight seasonal friends but that's all about to end. They're both seniors and they know that this is their last night working at their favorite place. Deja is nostalgic about the food that she'll miss and she's also convinced that Josiah has to talk to his crush, fudge girl or he'll regret it for the rest of his life. Deja convinces Josiah that they need to make their last night count and they are going to run all over this pumpkin patch seeking out the best food, sights, sounds, and of course, the infamous fudge girl. This book is very atmospheric and it makes you want fall, pumpkins, scarecrows, kettle corn, and  corn mazes RIGHT NOW. Also, maybe a pumpkin spice coffee or two as well. Cute, and amazingly well drawn, this little romantic graphic novel is sure to be a hit with teens.

I'll Never Tell

I  adored the layout of this book. Full of twists and turns, with measured and calculated flashbacks that slowly, painstakingly reconstruct that fateful night twenty years ago. What happened to Amanda?

After their parents sudden death the McAllister kids meet back at Camp Macaw to find out whats in the will. Between the five kids, they have no idea whats in store for them. They assume they will have to take a vote on what happens to the summer camp, a veritable gold mine of property, but none of them are prepared for what's really contained in their father's last will and testament. They have to find out what happened to Amanda, no more secrets, no more lies. They have to own up to what there were all up to that last fateful night. As the only brother, everyone always wondered if Ryan had something to do with it and most still wonder now. Over a period of two days, the secrets start to become unburied and they all realize that they had more to do with what happened to Amanda and its cover up then any of them could have ever imagined. Dark, twisted, and compelling, this page turner is a must for fans of dark thrillers!

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Sleepless Volume 2

Not as groundbreaking as its predecessor, Sleepless volume 2 picks up a nearly a year after the first installment. Cyrenic is still in his deep sleep and Lady Poppy can no longer postpone her wedding to the man who tried to have her killed in the first book. They're each "fighting through the darkness" but it's much harder than when they are fighting together. They have to have their wits about them to survive and in the process hope that they will be reunited. Not as exciting and romantic as the first book, but still a pretty ok follow up. I will say that volume two seems to have a pretty definite conclusion so I can't imagine there will be anymore in this series, but I could be wrong!

The Reckless Oath We Made

I loved this as much as Bryn Greenwood's first novel and that is saying a lot. The premise of the book sounded odd to me but once I started reading it was perfect! I was immediately won over by Zee, a young woman in more debt and trouble than most her age and Gentry, a gentle soul who acts, speaks, and lives as a knight. The voices in Gentry's head have told him that he must be Zee's champion and watch over her, and he is determined to be the most chivalrous and protective man to her. Zee is used to having Gentry "stalk" her; she knows he's harmless, but she generally just avoids him. When her sister is kidnapped by escaped convicts, Zee finds herself: homeless, jobless, carless, and in charge of her 5 year old nephew. To say she is overwhelmed is an understatement. Gentry proves invaluable as he rescues Zee time and again and she finds herself softening to this stocky, Shakespearean talking, sword wielding man. Utterly unique, charming, and heartfelt. 100% would recommend!

Monday, August 26, 2019

Little Bee

Impossible to put down, this story of love, betrayal, hope, and family will leave readers wiping their eyes and wishing for more. Two women on opposite sides of the world find their lives entangled by one horrific moment in time that neither of them will ever be able to forget. Little Bee, a Nigerian asylum seeker and Sarah an editor in London will find their paths crossing nearly two years after their first horrible encounter and both will be powerless to stop the chain of events that will unfold. Uplifting, captivating, and unique; the characters leap right off the pages and into your heart and you're powerless to turn away. A real triumph in storytelling.

Rebound

A wonderful prequel to the award winning young adult novel, The Crossover. Written entirely in verse, Rebound follows Chuck Bell, the summer after his father's unexpected death when he is sent to stay with his grandparents. Angry and disinterested in everything except comics he is resigned to hate the whole summer but he soon discovers that he loves hanging with his father's family and to his surprise he's actually really good at basketball, a sport he always kind of avoided. The summer is filled with the Harlem Globetrotters, The Boys and Girls Club, comics, lawn mowing, and family. Chuck Bell has no idea how impactful this summer will be on the rest of his life. A slam dunk.

The Haunting of Hill House

An extremely chilling, unique, and unsettling horror novel; that remains relevant even to this day. I've read other books by Shirley Jackson, but this might be my favorite. It's simple yet so very deep and nuanced and everything ties in together; weaving a tapestry of evil and doubt. Three strangers are united by a scholar of the occult promising a summer of free lodging, modest pay, and amiable company. The four find themselves taking up residence in Hill House, a massive manor that has spent decades empty and has dozens of rumors surrounding it. Everyone is unsettled by the house which gives off an air of darkness and chill, but they band together to see if anything is truly off about the house. Dr. Montague is the primary note taker and scholar, Theodora is a beautiful and engaging participant, Luke is the future inheritor of the estate, and Eleanor is poor, friendless and determined to make the best of the situation. Small horrors begin to creep in and by the time they think to do something it's too late. A great horror novel!

Friday, August 23, 2019

David: Savakerrva

What happens when a fourteen year old orphan from Detroit finds out he's the son of an alien king?! Adventure of the highest order; a space odyssey for all ages! "David: Savakerrva" takes readers on a journey through space; exploring rich new frontiers and fantastic species and cultures.

Disbelief, anger, annoyance, and righteous indignation flow through David when he learns the life changing truth about his past and his future. How can he help save a planet when he's used to being bullied, he can barely stand up for himself let alone a bunch of aliens! Against his wishes he's taken from Earth and given only the barest of explanations on what he's expected to do. David knows that the prophecy has foretold his coming and that without his help, his father's home planet will be destroyed. No small feat, considering he was just chilling out in his room reading comic books days before, it's not like he's been training his whole life for this. David must look inward to see if he's even an inkling of the man that these strange aliens think he is. The classic battle of good versus evil will play out on the pages and readers will enjoy every minute of the ride.  Brimming with exhilarating sights and sounds, witty banter, impossible tests, malicious bad guys, and an occasionally whiny teenager; this science fiction novel is an excellent start to what I hope is a nice long series.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Damsel

Wow, what a blistering take on the age old tale of rescuing a damsel. This dark, thematic young adult book is really NC 17 - there is a lot of sexual abuse, self-harm, and harassment in this book - spoiler alert. The book opens with Prince Emory traveling to a far off land to slay a dragon and rescue a damsel. He must successfully bring a damsel back to his kingdom to be wed or he will never be king. For as far back as anyone can remember, the cycle has always remained the same; slay a dragon, rescue a damsel, wed her, impregnate her with one son, who will then turn around and repeat the process when it is his turn to be king. For Ama, this is all new. She has no memories before being rescued by Prince Emory; she has to take his word for everything and trust that he knows best. As she tries to adjust to her new place in the castle with her pet lynx; Ama realizes that she is unhappy, why shouldn't she get a say in her? She is constantly talked down to, bossed around, taken advantage of, and demeaned; Prince Emory doesn't seem so heroic anymore. Ama wishes she could just remember what life was like before he "rescued" her. Dark, twisted, and wonderful; the ending alone is worth reading this book for!

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

The World on Either Side

What a STUNNING young adult novel about grief, compassion, and letting go. When sixteen year old, Valentine Joy's boyfriend tragically dies, her life falls apart. For months she can't bear to leave her bed or face the world, and even suffers an "accidental" overdose. Her mother has had enough, and in order to save her daughter, Valentine's mother decides to jolt her away from her thoughts and environment by going overseas to trek across Thailand and take in the sights. Anything to get her mind off her dead boyfriend. Despite herself Valentine starts to enjoy herself, just a little; being far away from home is helping her process her thoughts and feelings. She's intrigued by a young elephant keeper in their group, trying to tease out the secrets of his past; when suddenly tragedy strikes. The group discover a heard of murdered elephants, the only survivor being a baby they name Mohawk. Valentine and her mysterious friend decide to try and save the baby from poachers and soon find themselves fleeing through the forest trying to stay one step ahead of the angry men with guns. Filled with sorrow, heartache, and love - this book is about what it takes to give forgiveness and seek compassion. Readers will also learn about the struggles of Burmese refugees and the struggle on the Myanmar/Thailand border, something that many people around the world remain unaware of. Educational, thought provoking, and brilliant - this young adult book will find many adult fans as well. A voice to watch!

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Hidden Scales

Tightly woven and thoroughly engaging; this middle grade fantasy novel will win over boys and girls of all ages. Thought to extinct for decades, merrows have only lived in the imagination. Merrows were water breathing humans able to live on land and under water and were thought to be quite magical and strong although no one is sure why or when they disappeared. When eleven year old Mira is abducted from her cozy little coastal town along with her best friend Peter, they have no idea what kind of adventure they are about to embark on. Everything they knew about their kingdom and their lives is about to be flipped upside down as they try to keep one step ahead of the shadowveils who are hunting them and their new companions. Mira and Peter as well as a flying horse, a mischievous young boy, a sly gnome, and a saucy woman must race against the clock to discover the secrets of the merrows, rescue their kidnapped friends, and evade the shadowveils. Accompanying each chapter is a gorgeous illustration to really help paint the scene. Wonderfully paced and imagined; this fantasy novel is unique and readers will be eagerly waiting for the rest of this series.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Well Met

A cute romcom about a college drop out turned cool aunt/chauffeur and an insufferable English teacher that takes everything too seriously slowly falling for each other over the summer. Emily didn't know that she would have to volunteer alongside her teenage niece at the Renaissance Faire, but she's going to take it in stride. The event itself is four weekends and the prep is nearly 2 months! All to play a tavern wench and put up with the insufferable Simon, a stickler for rules and period appropriate language and attire. Despite herself, Emily discovers that she's really enjoying the quality time with her niece and ogling the men in kilts and leather pants. Maybe she's even starting to develop something for the insufferable Simon too. It's cheesy and cute - the perfect summer read for theater nerds and Shakespeare fans.

The Silent Patient

This is really a 3.5 star book - I did not see the ending coming.. I would have rated it higher, but I really had a hard time empathizing or liking any of the characters. Other than that, this was a solid thriller that had a slow build up and a satisfying end. Alicia Berenson, a talented and beautiful young artist was found holding the gun that killed her husband. All signs pointed to her pulling the trigger but she never uttered a word in her defense or to implicate herself. In fact she never uttered another word again. She's been locked away in an asylum for years finally receding from the public eye. All that changes when a hot shot psychotherapist decides that he has what it takes to get Alicia to talk about the night of her husband's death. He is so enamored and intrigued by Alicia's story that he get's a job at her asylum just so he can be closer to her and get to work with her. Creepy and suspenseful; this thriller goes anywhere accept where you think it should go.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Hollow Kingdom

OMG! This book was out of this world. The description sounds weird and dumb, but honestly once you start reading you're hooked and you'll be singing the author's praises for writing such a unique and bad-ass story line. Hollow Kingdom is the saga of a pet crow named Shit Turd (or S.T. for short) who is trying to make sense of the world with his faithful companion, Dennis (the most lovable, dumb, dog) after their owner Big Jim and the rest of humanity is struck down with zombie-esque virus. Suddenly animals and all of nature are free to reclaim what the humans had taken from them. S.T. struggles with this as he truly loved MoFos (humans); he loved their hot dog eating contests, their Cheetos, their reality television, and their shiny toys. He's never embraced his animal side preferring to mimic the MoFos, but now he'll have to in order to keep he and Dennis safe from all the escaped zoo animals and predators on the wild. Hilarious, one of a kind, and moving. This is a must read. Descriptions don't do it justice, just read this and fall in love!

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

The True Bastards

This follow up is just as good as the first (The Grey Bastards), maybe even better. I freaking ate this book up! The plot is just as tightly woven and the stakes are even higher in this installment. Plus the story is told through Fetch's eyes instead of Jackals and that adds a whole new dimension to this story (Fetch is my homegirl). Gritty, action packed, and filled to the brim with insane world building, this series is only getting better. I legit cannot wait for the next one (for real - there better be a ton more in this series!). The True Bastards takes places months after the last book and opens with the bastards trying to survive away from their stronghold with Fetch as hoof master. Since the Kiln burnt down, they are having to make do in the frail town, Winsome, and they are trying to reinforce it as quickly as possible to keep themselves safe. The only problem is; food is near impossible to come by, morale is low, and there is a terrifying pack of laughing dogs that wants nothing more to scale their walls and eat everyone. PLUS Fetch is still trying to rid herself of a sickness while still remaining strong for the hoof. The story quickly takes off and is one action packed adventure filled with fighting, fucking, and more fantastical enemies and allies. Soo freaking good!

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Help Me

Power, Marianne. Help Me. 9 CDs. unabridged. 11hrs 24 mins. Brilliance Audio. ISBN 9781721335176. $35.99. 

Marianne Power's candid, hilarious, and thoughtful memoir will resonant with any woman who has ever looked in the mirror and thought to herself, "I'm not pretty enough, smart enough, thin enough, or accomplished enough." A New Year's resolution turns into a soul searching nightmare as famed international journalist, Marianne Power, vows to read and adhere to a new self-help book every month. From rejection therapy to finances to fighting fear to talking to men, Marianne pushes herself to the limits and discovers that self-help is no joke. Over the course of the year she finds herself jumping from planes, chatting up strangers on the tube, asking a room full of businessmen for a date, doing naked yoga, and walking over hot coals. But has any of it made her a better woman? It's a year of change and discovery but as Marrianne discovers, sometimes too much looking inward can make us more self-centered and desensitized to what truly matters. Narrated brilliantly by the author and her mother, the wit and candor shines through even the darkest moments. Readers will be charmed by this thought-provoking quest on what it takes to be the best version of ourselves. - Erin Cataldi, Johnson Co. Public Library, Franklin, IN

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

The Adventure Zone: Murder on the Rockport Limited

A fun follow up! Funny, over the top, quirky, and clever; this nerdy graphic novel series is my new favorite thing. A trio of ridiculous adventurers have found themselves on a new quest. They must find a dangerous item before it falls into the hands of a nameless enemy. Things get complicated when they end up stuck on the train that the relic is on and someone gets murdered. Who did it? Why are they relying on a 10 year old for help. Why  is there a giant crab attacking them? Wonderfully illustrated and filled with fantastic banter, I can hardly wait for the third installment!

Monday, August 5, 2019

The Saturday Night Ghost Club

A humorous nostalgic read with an ending you won't suspect, but will make the book all the more heartfelt for it. The Saturday Night Ghost Club is a mix between the Stranger Things and the Goonies, but a little more melancholy, and highlights two lonely pre-teens on the verge of a great friendship. Set during the 80's in the unique town of Niagara Falls, Jake learns what it's like to get over your fears, make friends, and tune in with your slightly spooky surroundings. His Uncle C owns and operates the Occultorium and urges Jake and a newcomer to town to attend his Saturday evening ghost club. Jake must overcome his fear of spooky things and friendship, but quickly discovers that it is well worth the risk. Quirky, beautifully written, and touching; this is an excellent book of friendship and of things that go bump in the night.

Monday, July 29, 2019

The Adventure Zone

I thought this would be dumb and not able to live up to the hype... but it was pretty funny and enjoyable. Not just for RPG fans, The Adventure Zone is zany, off the wall, ingenious, and inventive at every turn. A trio of adventures embark on their quest with the aid of their dungeon master. It's fantasy, friendship, foibles, and more. Great fun and I genuinely can't wait to read the next one. Definitely worth the hype!

Gods of Jade and Shadow

Fun ,unique, and impossible to put down! Casiopea is tired of being treated like dirt by her family. Ever since her father died and she and her mother and to go back to her grandfather's house in southern Mexico; all she does is clean and be at their beck and call, she's no better than Cinderella. All Casiopea wants to do is experience the world, listen to jazz, dance, and drive around in an automobile. The whole world is turning and changing without her. All that changes though when she accidentally releases a Mayan god from a locked chest. Suddenly she's on an adventure and she has no idea where she will end up next. Urban legends are suddenly appearing before her very eyes and even though she's now bound to this devilishly handsome god of death, she's not that scared. What could be worse than scrubbing floors? Steeped with Mayan lore, this fun adventure features the most spirited girl, someone readers will instantly fall for. A great read!

Cleopatra

In one word, fascinating. This biography delves into the world's most "wicked woman"and arguably the least understood woman. What little survives of her was written by men, Romans who would eventually annex Egypt and misremember, misattribute, and slander Cleopatra. What people remember about this bad-ass queen, is not her wit, fierceness, and shrewd leadership; rather they remember her as a beautiful seductress who managed to snag two of the most powerful men in the world. Stacy Schiff delves deep to set the record straight in this amazing (admittedly a little dense at times) biography. I always thought Cleopatra was cool (what little I knew about her), but after reading this I realized that she is the feminist boss babe I needed in my life right now. In her lifetime she sat a table of leaders, all men - and reigned supreme.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

The Princess Saves Herself in This One

I started with her second collection first (which I loved!), but hell this book is just as good! Amanda Lovelace writes powerful poetry that women will instantly relate to. Even though this collection primarily deals with dark themes (depression, abuse, rape, suicide, and more), it ultimately ends hopeful. Each poem is about how the world and people can (and will) let you down, but then exalts the ways in which we can build ourselves back up and be our own heroes. Proud, feminist, and empowering; this poetry collection is great for women of all ages. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Whispers of the Biafran Skeleton

Haunting and dripping with righteous indignation; Ngozi Olivia Osuoha's prose will chill you to the bones. This collection brings to life the horror, senseless slaughter, mass rape, and murder of more than two million when Nigerian forces attacked Biafra. A sadly overlooked and little known atrocity, the Biafran independence and subsequent Civil War was bloody and tragedy and most of the world didn't blink an eye. The poems do a masterful job of raising a voice to the violence, the hope, and the suffering of millions. Not for the faint of heart, yet crucial reading. This angry, horrific collection will stir your heart and steel your resolve.

In the Donald's Time

Irreverent, dark, humorous, and scathing; this poetry collection is breath of fresh air in our current shitty political climate. Jonel Abellanosa does a superb job of capturing the myriad of emotions many Americans are dealing with in beautiful, pragmatic, and endearing prose. There is very nearly a poem for every mood, and trust me with the Trumpster we suffer from a myriad of emotions. This timely collection attempts to make sense of the mess.  Unflinching, brutally honest, mesmerizing, and beautiful; this collection of poetry won't leave your head or your heart.

Riding Bareback Backwards

Prose that sticks in your mind for it's vivid imagery and truth, this collection will stick with you long after you've closed the book. Christina Quinns's collection of poetry is pure, unadulterated, and beautiful. From whimsical to remorseful to hopeful, the meandering prose takes you on a journey. My personal favorite poem was about three strawberries, it was unnamed and unusually resonant from me; I had to read it twice. A great collect and a fantastic contemporary poet that I look forward to reading more of.

Hammer of God

Each line is suffused with beauty and power and as a result Aria Ligi's poetry just begs to be read aloud. Her verse dances on the page and in the mind and while her subject may change, her eloquence does not. From beauty, desire, violence, anger, and hope; this collection has something to fulfill any reader's desire. Hammer of God is broken into sections in order to tell a story or theme. Classical themes, religion, modern day problems, and more are lovingly and scathingly illustrated in flowering language and prose. A powerful collection from a contemporary poet that will leave readers wanting more.

The Death of Disco

Quick, sweet, poignant, and powerful; a masterful collection contained in a tiny volume. Alicia's collection of poetry will stick with readers long after devouring this chapbook. Ranging from a line or two to a full page; this collection is irreverent, sassy, fun, and packs a punch. What Young can do with a few words will leave you jealous and eager to read more. From drugs to Hugh Hefner to typewriters and death; there is truly something for everyone. Definitely a collection you'll keep coming back to and won't soon forget.

Lock Every Door

Right off the bat I knew this was going to be a trippy book; it was dedicated to Ira Levin (Rosemary's Baby) which is also set in an old Gothic apartment building in the city. Jules has just agreed to be an apartment sitter for one of the oldest and prestigious apartment buildings in the world. As a child she adored the building since it was the setting of her favorite book and she can't believe she was lucky enough to land such a cushiony job. She's going to get paid $12K for staying in the most luxurious apartment looking over central park. And it's only a 3 month commitment! What could wrong?! For starters there seem to be an awful lot of rules. She can't have guests over, she can't talk to or "bother" the residents (many of whom are mega rich celebrities), she can't stay the night anywhere else and she can't post any pictures of the place online. Jules soon discovers that there are three other apartment sitters in the building and just when they start to bond, one of them goes missing. Even though no one is convinced that anything is wrong, Jules feels in her gut that something happened. On top of that some very mysterious thing happening around the building starts to put her on edge. It's a slow build thriller that will keep you guessing and when you get to the end and are convinced you finally figured it out...  you'll realize just how wrong you were. Creepy and fun, definitely for fans of Rosemary's Baby. 

The Graveyard Book

Honestly, I can't imagine "reading" this when Neil Gaiman such does a brilliant job "narrating" it. It was freaking brilliant. His accent, the care to differentiate his character's voice, and his cadence, made this a true treat to listen to. The Graveyard Book opens with a gruesome family murder and a small baby boy who miraculously escapes to a graveyard. When the killer tracks the baby to the neighboring graveyard the residents (aka ghosts) band together to protect the baby boy and vow to raise him in the safety of the graveyard. Unsure of what his name is they decide to call him Nobody, or Bod for short. Bod has an unusual childhood, never being allowed to leave the gates of the cemetery his lessons include opening and closing ghoul gates, disappearing, and haunting. As he gets older though he longs to be around other breathing humans. A perfect and not too scary book for middle grade readers that is equal parts funny and spooky. Very endearing :)

Fables: Super Team

This installment was a "tiny" bit of a let down. Mr. Dark gets dealt with for the final time (we hope) we see the true side of Mrs. Pratt (I didn't love the story-line about fat women being ugly on the outside AND on the inside), and the fables (specifically Pinocchio have waay too much fun trying to pick out their super hero costumes to battle Mr. Dark. It wasn't as strong as some of the past volumes, but it did move the story forward and it was enjoyable, it just wasn't quite as up to snuff as some of the others have been. Never fear, I still plan on reading the rest of the series!

Fables: Rose Red

No complaints here - this series is as reliable as they come; I have yet to be let down by a volume and this is no exception. Not only does the plot get better, but we get a sweet back story on Rose Red and Snow White as well as lots of bonus content at the end. Mr. Dark is still menacing the fables and they soon have to make a hasty retreat from the Farm to the Haven. At least Rose Red got out of bed and finally made an effort to lead her people to safety, she's been moping for far too long since Blue's untimely death!

Monday, July 22, 2019

After the Flood

I thought I was over the doom and gloom of dystopian novels, but I thought wrong. This inventive new take on a world that has flooded had me riveted from the get go. A young mother and her daughter must survive in a world nearly completely flooded. Armed with only their small boat and fishing prowess, they must navigate a society completely torn apart by flooding. Unwillingly to trust anyone except for her daughter she decides that she must track down her first born who was stolen from her by her husband years ago. For once she has a lead and she will stop at nothing to get her back after living with a hopeless dread for years. Filled with pirates, badass women, survival, adventure, and romance; I ADORED this novel and look forward to more from this author! Super fast paced and full of intrigue!

The Orphan Master's Son

A book so cunningly complex and deceptively simple that it almost defies explanation. Set in the nearly unimaginable country of North Korea, Adam Johnson creates some of the richest and most compelling characters and weaves them together in a tale of deceit, pain, wonder, intrigue, and hope. Jun Do, a young man, raised in miserable conditions in an orphanage, grows up to face even more miserable conditions as a tunnel fighter. Somehow gaining notice of his superiors; he gets selected for some special missions that will turn his entire life upside down and shape his destiny. Soon he is kidnapping with abandon, surviving "shark attacks," falling in love, and discovering what life could be like outside of North Korea. A unique literary masterpiece that will give readers pause and won't soon be forgotten.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

For fans of "The Rosie Project," this debut book about a twenty nine year old woman content to just "exist" will charm many readers. Eleanor Oliphant has a routine; she works, does the crossword puzzle at lunch, talks to her mother on Wednesday, goes to the store on Friday and drinks vodka all weekend by herself. There is no variation, there is no fun, there is no adventure. That is until she meets a bumbling young man in the IT department, Raymond. First he fixes her computer and then he proceeds to turn her life upside down. From the tiniest things; going for lunch, helping out an elderly man, actually talking to her, these things shake up her routine enough and start a domino effect to actually get Eleanor to take a good hard look at her life and find some meaning in it. Her standoffish attitude, weirdness, and inability to have a meaningful relationship with anyone make it hard for people to approach her, but Raymond seems to be doing a pretty good job. Cute, but at times dark and real. Not one I would personally re-read, but still good nonetheless.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill

A super cute book that as a bibliophile I appreciated. Was it great literature? No. Was it something I'll read again? No. Was it super fun? Hell yes. Nina Hill likes things nice and orderly. She lives by her planner; any fun that happens is scheduled. Nina works at a local LA bookstore, is involved in multiple book clubs, and kicks ass at trivia with her friends. She even sorts her shelves by Book of the Month, and signed editions - same girl! I felt Nina on a spiritual level; from the way she was organized, valued reading, and got stressed and overwhelmed easily if there was too much on her plate or surprises were thrown her way. And lo and behold, a lot happens to Nina in a short amount of time; she's introduced to a whole new part of her family that she didn't know existed and she starts to develop feelings for one of her rival trivia team members. She's going to have to come out of her shell, (at least a little bit) to deal with the world, and who knows, maybe she'll even like what she finds.