Thursday, March 21, 2019

The Two Tails

Much more fleshed out and realized than the first in this series, Impeccable Petunia really hits its stride with this second installment. Double in size to it's predecessor, The Two Tails introduces several new characters: Felix the dog, Winchester the raccoon, and Thatcher the Possum. Petunia finds herself really preferring the luxuries and the friendships provided in the big house and starts to spend less and less time with her peers. She's grown close to Max the cat and prefers to stay out of the dumb drama that comes from the chickens. When Max is taken away and foxes start attacking the hen-house, chaos breaks out and the pecking order is upended. A new hen is rising to the top and things will never be the same. Petunia has other troubles though, she must find Max and restore order to the hen house balance. The other hens may be to dumb to realize what's really at stake, but Petunia isn't. She has to put on her big girl panties and put faith in creatures she would have shied away from a few months prior. This series is very reminiscent of Charlotte's Webb or other animal based literature. Very fun and I can't wait to see where the story goes next.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Claws, Paws, Feathers, & Jaws

Deceptively simple, yet surprisingly deep; this story of a young hen battling the hierarchy of the hen-house and trying to find her place in the world will resonate with readers young and old. Petunia has always stood out from the other chickens. She appreciates the little things in life, cultivates her own tiny garden in the corner of the yard and is always questioning things. When their new lonely owner takes Petunia inside the big house one day, the other chickens are aghast. Will Petunia get eaten? To Petunia's delight she and Silkie (her human) get along thick as thieves, content with each other's company. Petunia even finds herself getting along with the cat, once her deepest enemy. Every night though Petunia has to go back to the hen-house to face the other chickens and they are not amused. They find her behavior weird and they aim to do something about it. Petunia thought she couldn't get any lower in the pecking order but she's about to be proved wrong. Each chapter has an accompanying illustration that helps bring the story to life. Fun and endearing; for readers of all ages!

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

The Edible Woman

Marian is coasting through life. Things aren't great, but they aren't bad. She has a boring job, an interesting roommate, and a tolerable boyfriend. But deep down she knows something is off. When she and Peter get drunkenly engaged it really starts to show. Suddenly certain foods start to taste off, then they become completely un-consumable. At first it's just meat - fine, she'll become vegetarian. But then it starts spreading. Soon it's certain vegetables, puddings, eggs, cake. The list keeps growing and her waist starts shrinking. But Marian starts to feel as if she's no longer in control of her own life. She feels as if she is the one being consumed. Interesting characters, even though all are unlikable and very neat concept. Superbly written.

Decaffeinated Corpse

I jumped right into this series on book 5, skipping the preliminaries and the first four in this cozy mystery series. That being said I didn't feel like I missed out on anything. Most cozies read fairly well as stand alone novels. This series takes place in a quaint coffee shop in New York. One of the co-owners has a knack for solving mysteries but her ex-husband (the other co-owner) never seems to appreciate her efforts. Business at the coffee shop is about to grow as they get exclusive rights to the world first decaffeinated coffee bean. Customers can't even tell the difference it's so good. Things take a weird turn though when her ex-husband's old friend and the creator of the new strain of coffee is found mugged right outside their coffee shop. The characters are pretty fun, it's a neat setting, and all the coffee talk made me extremely thirsty. It was alright, but not the fastest paced cozy I've ever read.

Friday, March 15, 2019

And Then There Were None

It's been seven years since I last read this and I somehow forgot who did this and it drove me nuts until I got to the end! It's a real windinger of a mystery that you have to be a genius to even begin to solve. Ten strangers are invited to Indian island under "murky" circumstances, they soon found out that their mysterious host Mr. U N Owen (unknown) hasn't bothered to show. Too late they realize that something is afoot and the guests begin to die off one at a time. Whose behind it? Is there someone else on the island? Is it one of them? The deaths get more and more outlandish and they all start to crack. Who would do such a thing? It's dark, deep, and one hell of a mystery. A classic that will never go out of style!

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Yoga Wisdom

Wonderfully written and full of inspiring testimonials, advice, and sought after wisdom. Stephanie Spence (aka the Yoga Road Trip Girl) writes a wonderful testament to the power of yoga that is equal parts memoir, self help, and tributes from yoga teachers around the globe. This deeply personal and moving book is filled with beautiful pictures of yoga warriors exuding confidence, wisdom, humility, and hope.

Stephanie Spence starts the book when her life hit rock bottom, and as she tells her story across the chapters she includes wonderful passages from yogis around the globe whose personal yoga stories tie into where Stephanie was on her path to fulfillment. There's lots of ups and downs, but through it all, yoga was her saving grace. I really enjoyed reading what yoga meant to Stephanie and to so many different people, the testimonials from other instructors were really uplifting, eye-opening, and personal. Like yoga, this book is perfect for everyone. Whether you are just getting into yoga, only do yoga once in a while at your local winery or are a full fledged yoga enthusiast, this book is a perfect read for you. It's infinitely quotable and each section contains so much to inspire you. Reading a page per day and then meditating on it would be an easy sell, or like me you can blaze through it in 24 hours. Either way, this book is a must and it's really opened my eyes to yoga in a whole new way! I can't wait to put what I read into practice and start implementing yoga into my every day, it's so more than just poses, it's a path to authenticity!

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue

Why did it take me so long to read this book?!? This is a one of a kind young adult book. It's full of swagger, sex, vice, adventure, pirates, romance (gay and straight), and intrigue. And it's historical fiction! It's freaking awesome. Henry, his sister, and his best friend Percy are out on their "tour" of the continent. Henry just completed his schooling and as one last hurrah, he's allowed to go on a year long tour before he has to go back and start helping his father with the family estate, something he is absolutely dreading. Their barely on their way when Henry's antics at Versailles land them in a world of trouble. As if escaping from the party in nothing but his birthday suit wasn't bad enough, they are soon apprehended by highwaymen and it only gets worse from there. If they are going to survive Henry is going to have to cut back on drinking, stop sleeping around, and get his head out of his ass. The three young teenagers will need all their wits. Fun and unique. I'll have to check out the sequel!

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Once Upon a River

I don't know what I was expecting this novel to be, but it did not align to what I thought it should be about (based solely on the cover). That being said, this novel of storytelling, love, nature, and imagination was unique in every aspect. Like the flow of a river, I had no idea where the story was going to take me and I certainly didn't come close to predicting the end. The two central figures in this novel are the Swan (a nice little pub where storytelling is the highest form of currency) and the river. One ordinary night as the drinks were flowing, a man stumbled in and immediately passed out due to injuries, with him is a young girl of four; cold and dead. When Rita the local doctor is called for she patches up the injured man and sets the girl outside.... only to realize that the young dead girl is no longer dead. The tale of this miraculous girl grows and spreads. Where did she come from? How did she come back from the dead? What has the river done? Fascinating tale that ebbs and flows with multiple narrators and perspectives.

Stationary Bike

I enjoyed this, but not as much as other Stephen King novellas. I can't pinpoint why exactly, but it didn't resonate with me even though I liked many different aspects of it. Stationary Bike opens with a middle aged overweight man in a doctor's office. Things are being written down in red, weight cholesterol, he has to do something about it. Actually taking the doctor's advice he starts to eat better, sleep more at night, and introduce some work outs. Rather than join a gym, he purchases a stationary bike and puts it in his basement. At first it's tedious and boring, there is nothing to look at. As an artist he decides to paint a trail, a bike path he remembers from childhood. Overnight his biking improves and it turns to his favorite part of the day. If it weren't for the timer to snap him out of his biking reverie he might never stop. It's like he really is biking right there in his art/memories. But one day he sees something and in the distance he can hear an approaching truck. He can't bear to think about what will happen if the truck catches him while biking. Suspenseful, unique, and witty.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Gulliver's Travels

UUGGGGHHHHH. Could this book be any more boring or slow?! It was a trial just to finish the damn thing! The only reason I picked this up was its listing on "The Great American Read." I get that this is a classic and all, but COME ON! This book was as dry as a saltine cracker in the desert. There was nothing there. Some idiot travels the world, always gets lost or shipwrecked, "discovers" fantastical lands and peoples and writes about it. This happens FOUR times (alright mate, maybe you shouldn't be a sailor), so the story literally repeats itself four damn times. The narrator then learns their language and customs, pokes fun at their quirks and relates the "proper" way things are done back in England to these "ignorant" folks. In the process he's poking fun of his own countrymen to make a point to the reader. It's slow and droll. I get that this book is like three centuries old. But damn it didn't age well (if it was ever good to begin with).

Saturday, March 2, 2019

A Woman is No Man

I was a freaking EMOTIONAL WRECK after reading this! It's heartbreaking, unflinching, and damned powerful. A Woman is No Man tells the story of three generations of Palestinian American women; two who immigrated to the US and one who was born there. The story centers on Irsa, a young woman who is married off to an American Muslim, she is terrified to leave behind her family and the only life she's ever known, but she has dreams that life will better for women in America. Maybe they wil be loved and respected and given opportunities; something she never had growing up. America proves to be another let down though her new family is just as strict as the one she left behind. She is expected to clean and cook all day and bear her husband sons. There is no room for growth or freedom; she can't leave the house, make friends, read, or relax. She is constantly bossed around by Fareeda, her husbands mother, who makes sure that Irsa knows her place. It's a man's world and she shouldn't get any foolish notions in her head. She gets pregnant pretty quickly and everyone is annoyed when she births a girl. A useless girl. Then she goes and has three more girls. She and her daughters are the shame of the family, Irsa's husband starts beating her. The other two perspectives in the story are from Fareeda, her mother in law, and Irsa's eldest daughter, Deya. Reading this book you wish it was taking place in the past, how could something so unfair and inhumane take place in today's society? Are women really so unappreciated and abused? The ending was especially heartbreaking. A necessary read that will break your heart.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

The Sirens of Titan

Unpopular opinion, but this is not my favorite Vonnegut. Not even in my top five. But before you start throwing stones at me, I still enjoyed it. A lot. I can't pinpoint exactly why I didn't like this as much as his others, but it was still a good read. It's zany, filled with classic Vonnegut-isms, zany characters,  tributes to Indianapolis, weird space opera vibes, and jabs about human faith, politics, and economy. The Sirens of Titan tell the story of the space wanderer. Once, the richest playboy on earth, now a man lost in the cosmos forgetful of his past. It's a story about the wonders of space, the folly of organized religion, and morality. It's over the top as always and filled with characters only Vonnegut could create. Even though it's not my favorite, I want to come back to this one and read it in a few years instead of listening to the audio.

Make Me a City

Dense and overwhelming at times; but the scale, beauty, and depth of this novel is jaw dropping and makes it worth the effort. Make Me a City is a novel that shows the rapid growth of Chicago from 1800 to 1900 from a variety of different viewpoints and formats. From letters to chapbooks to interviews to essays and orations; the character building is immense. And what's crazy is most characters are just minor footnotes, there are a few who keep popping up over the decades along with their descendants, but the scope of the people that help tell the story of building the world's greatest city is mind-blowing. Most don't even know about the imprint their leaving behind or don't understand that their journey is one of the reasons that Chicago is the way it is. From a small mulatto man who was robbed off his homestead in 1800 to the digging of canals, the raising of streets, commandeering the railways, the building of skyscrapers, Marshall Fields, the Great Chicago Fire, and the World's Fair; this unconventional historical novel tells the story of a city through the eyes of those who came first, respected her, and were far from the top of the heap. It's marvelous and unique.

Monday, February 25, 2019

House Arrest

I adored this freestyle young adult book. Timothy is on house arrest for a year. A whole year! All because he stole a wallet and used a credit card he found in it. And yes, stealing is bad. But is it so bad when you're stealing to help your baby brother? His brother is only a baby and already has a slew of problems; he has a trach in his neck and TONS of medical problems he needs a lot of help. Their dad walked out on them about a year ago so Timothy thought he was helping their mom out; their strapped for cash and the medical bills keep mounting. But now he's on house arrest and he has to keep a stupid journal to record his "feelings." Yeah he's feeling pretty annoyed. And angry. Angry at his stupid dad that left his mom to deal with his brother's medical problems. Angry that his stupid probation officer is always asking questions. Angry that his best friend complains about his dad who is clearly awesome. Timothy is angry at just about everything and everyone. Everyone except his cute lil' brother, Levi. Timothy would steal all the wallets in the world to keep Levi safe. Heart-wrenching and powerful. I couldn't put this book down.

Sleepless

I really enjoyed the concept of this graphic novel! It's medieval with elements of the supernatural and different cultural tidbits from around the world. Lady Poppy is a princess in the kingdom of Harbeny, her father just died and her spot in court is uncertain. She's not close to sitting on the throne, her father had many wives and children, but someone seems determined to murder her and she isn't in the least sure why. Thankfully, she has her sleepless knight and adorable little fox to keep her safe. Cyrenic, her knight, took a vow of sleeplessness in order to watch over Poppy day and knight, and with all the turmoil, he's never been more watchful. unfortunately, his vow is catching up with him, he hasn't slept in years, and his mind is starting to drift. The only thing he is certain of is his love and undying service to Poppy. Wonderfully illustrated and written. I cannot wait for the next installment!!!!

Friday, February 22, 2019

On the Come Up

Hot damn!! Angie Thomas knows how to follow up a phenomenal book with an even better one (or almost better? I can't decide, they're both so damn good!). Angie Thomas is doing amazing things for young adult literature; her voice, her tone, her characters, and her battles are soo soo vital and important. On the Come Up follows Bri, a sixteen year old black girl who has her heart set on being a rapper. She lives in Garden Heights, a poor black community riddled with gang violence, drugs, and despair; but despite all that she still loves it. These are her people, her friends, and when she blows up as the next big thing, she'll be proud to represent the Garden. Bri's mom is pushing school on her, but it's a little hard to focus on the ACT when the heat is off and there is no food in the house. Her mom has just been fired from her job and her older brother is living at home after coming back from college with no job offers. They're trying to make ends meet, but it's hard to succeed when the cards are stacked against you. Bri is convinced that if her rapping career takes off then her family won't need to worry anymore, so instead of focusing on her grades she's putting her blood, sweat, and tears into getting her rap career off the ground, even if it means alienating her friends and family. What will it take to get Bri to realize that there is more then life then money? Will she end up like her father, an underground rap legend murdered by gang members? Empowering and inspiring; this book is a must read!

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Tacoma Stories

Tacoma Stories is a short story collection that spans sixty years and follows the lives of sixteen people who once all frequented the same dive bar in sleepy Tacoma, Washington. The characters are vivid and as varied as you can get; the stories highlighting different parts of their lives and their secrets; often times the characters will pop up in each others stories, never content to be alone. From love affairs to goat murder to Ted Bundy's house; this collection is all over the place, yet somehow so cohesive; the characters weaving in and out of each other's lives; often times in the most dramatic ways. Amusing, chilling, and sometimes downright bizarre, readers of short story collections with a unified theme will enjoy this.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

A Touch of Gold

I ADORED this book! I loved the concept and I love reading any books with twists on old mythology. A Touch of Gold is centered on King Midas' daughter. She too is cursed like her father but in a different way; her skin is gold and "things" happen when she comes into contact with gold. For a decade she has been locked in the castle, virtually friendless, but when a thief comes into the castle and steals the precious gold pieces keeping her father alive, she knows she has to act. She secures the help of one of her suitors (the only one that hasn't been terrified at the sight of her) and they set off to reclaim her father's goods and save his life. Along they way they encounter pirates, temptresses, and desires of the heart. It's fast paced, filled with unforgettable characters, romance, adventure, and is full of surprises. I can't wait for the next book in this series!

Monday, February 18, 2019

Water for Elephants

This book held up on even a second reading. It's magical and spectacular, even while being dark and gritty. It's a romance not involving just a woman and a man; but involving a fierce love of animals. The poor poor circus animals. Honestly, that's the hardest part I had with the book, I get that this was set during the twenties, however, I hate reading about animal cruelty and these poor exotic animals (especially the elephant, Rosie) can't seem to catch a break, no matter what Jacob does.

After finding out about his parent's tragic death and the loss of the family homestead, Jacob walks out of Cornell, one week away from receiving his diploma. He steals away on a train, not realizing that it was a circus one. Right before he is about to get thrown off the train, they realize that he is a veterinarian (albeit it one without a degree) and hire him on the spot. He starts to fall for the circus routine, the animals, and the beautiful Marlena (who is very off limits, being married to the menagerie manager). As a vet he is able to socialize with both groups of the circus, the workers and the performers. He quickly becomes well liked, which is a dangerous position to be in, when the manager is keeping an eye on you... and his wife.

Beautifully brought to life and captivating, reading all about the circus was fascinating and even though I can't get on board with the animal stuff, I love to read all about it. A wonderful historical fiction novel that readers across the board will love. 

Friday, February 15, 2019

Flowers in the Attic

Man, what a classic. It is a little weird coming back to this book. I don't think I've picked it up since middle school and it didn't disappoint. Although, reading it with adult eyes..... even ickier then I remember. Basically, if you're one of the five people who haven't read this book, the premise of the book is a mother (Corrine) is trying to get back into her father's good graces after she was disowned by him for marrying her half uncle. They had a very happy marriage and had four kids, but after an accident that leaves her a widow, she has no money, nowhere to go, and no way to support her kids. Corrine's mother knows about the kids but her father does not (he would be beyond disgusted if he discovered children were born out of an incestuous relationship), the mother finally relents to give the grieving family a place to live. The only catch is, they can't let the grandfather know! The good thing is, they live in a mansion; the kids can run around in the attic and the grandmother sneaks them food everyday. They bad news is they have to hide up there until the grandfather dies. Corrine is convinced she can get back into her father's good graces and inherit everything and then she and the kids can live like kings. He just can't know about the kids! He's in bad health and should die any day. It seems like an okay plan. At first. But as the months drag by and the kids are stuck trying to make a life living in the attic, they start to realize that no amount of money is worth having to live like they are. They miss the breeze, the grass, the fresh air, and the freedom to run. Their mother is slowly changing and they don't know how to hold onto their sanity. At first she visits them twice a day. Then once. Then every few days. Then every few months. The years pass. How much can the kids take? Slowly but surely, incestuous thought begin to take place between the oldest two kids. Will the cycle never end?!?!

A Hidden Secret

I won't lie, I was almost surprised at how simple this story was. I get that it's a novella, but dang. There wasn't much in the way of intrigue or true mystery. The book opens with a desperate young mother giving birth in a room unassisted and then dropping off the newborn at the Amish Bishop's house. As Sheriff, Kate is called and she starts to investigate where the mother is. It's pretty easy to guess, the baby is left with an Amish quilt and a homemade wooden rattle. Things start to click into place pretty easily. It was an alright read if you don't mind guessing the ending (spoiler - it's happy) within the first 10 pages.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Gemina

AHHH! Very rarely are follow up books as good as the first one, but Gemina is amazing, possibly even better than the first one! I can't decide! Seriously soo good, these teenage space opera action packed, romance laced book is food for the soul. Gemina picks up the story from Illuminae, but with a new cast of characters. Instead of being aboard the space shuttle Hypatia, Nic and Hanna are on the wormhole station, Heimdall. Which is just where Hypatia is headed. Hanna is the spoiled brat of the commander and Nic is drug dealing gang dealer. But there is much more to them then meets the eye. When a series of terrifying events throw them together, they learn to look past the surface, because in order to thwart Bei Tech industries they're going to have to work together. Things are only going to get worse. One hell of a follow up and ends on a cliffhanger. I need the third book now!!

The Financial Diet

Not the best financial book I've ever read, but one of the most fun. The Financial Diet's target audience is millennial women; it's filled with humor, Sex and the City references, cute drawings, foul language, and lifestyle tips. That's not to say that other demographics wouldn't enjoy it, just that it's certainly not intended as a financial guide for just anyone. Personally, I enjoyed it. The only part I didn't care for was the recipes, I'm looking how to improve my budget, not roast a chicken. Other than that, I really enjoyed the book, it was full of really good interviews, smart advice, and funny quips. This book is not a one size fits all financial fix though, and depending on your situation you'll have to cherry pick what works for you. I enjoyed it and will refer back to it time and again.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Ghost Story

It's been a minute since I caught up on the Dresden Files and I'm soo glad I checked back for this one! Damn, it was a good one! In the previous book Harry Dresden has been shot and presumably killed. This book pretty much confirms his death, as he comes back as a ghost. He is told he must track down his killer otherwise three people he loves will be harmed and possibly killed. He goes back to Chicago and has the task of trying to figure out how to get his friends to see or even hear him. He's a ghost dammit! Things quickly escalate and soon he isn't even concerned with tracking down his killer; he just wants to keep his friends safe. Fast paced from start to finish, I cannot wait to get to the next one!

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Amsterdam Noir

This is the second noir compilation I've read from this publisher (I've also read Belfast Noir) and while it wasn't my favorite, it wasn't bad. Some of the short stories in this are clearly better than others, but that's bound to happen when you have fifteen different authors spinning tales of deceit, darkness, murder, and intrigue. The thing I most enjoyed about this collection (and all in this series) is that the setting (Amsterdam) plays such a crucial element in every story. These dark, gritty stories make you feel as if you really are in Amsterdam. Some of the short stories deal with gangs, psychotic episodes, murder, revenge, and twisted fantasies. Again some are clearly better than others, but don't let that get in the way of reading this!

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Secret Joy of Hygge

A small quick read for anyone who is curious about hygge and want to implement it into their lives. Hygge (pronounced hoo-gah) is the Danish concept of taking time to appreciate the little things and to make your life as cozy, inviting, and as happy as possible. Author, Alexandra Amarotico is not a Denmark resident (she resides in New York), but she did spend some formative years studying there in college and living with a host family. The concept of hygge really rubbed off on her and appealed to her so she incorporated it into her American way of life. This guide contains all of her best practices. The Secret Joy of Hygge is broken into five sections: defining hygge, self, home, family & community, and work. Each section contains some tips and tricks on how to incorporate hygge into that aspect of your life. Most tips and ideas are very simple and inexpensive. Eat more dinners at home, use lots of candles, curl up with a good book, etc. It's informative, filled with great ideas, and cute sketches; perfect for anyone who is looking to learn more about hygge.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Clue

This is exactly what the cover promises, a graphic novel adaptation of Clue set in Modern Day. There are some new players (Dr. Orchid) and some classics have interesting new roles. Miss Scarlet is an Australian pop singer and Mrs. White is a Senator. The Butler is the main storyteller and he breaks the wall to talk to the reader a lot. It was amusing at first, but quickly got old. The rest of the story is similar to the game and the old movie. Mr. Boddy is murdered. Who had the motive and why? Lackluster, I had hoped for more. I didn't love that it was set in modern day and all the characters are dumb.

Illuminae

This book was money in the bank! The formatting and dialogue was soo unique! It started off a little overwhelming but quickly made sense. I would LOVE to see this on the big screen. It's non-stop action, teenage heartache, sarcasm, and trippy sci-fi. What more could you want? Even though this young adult book is massive (599 pages!) it reads quickly thanks to the unique format of the pages; the text of the book alternates between personnel files, online chats, memos, diary entries, code, and more. Kady Grant and Ezra Mason have just broken up and the timing couldn't be worse. They're at school when the sirens go off. Their small mining planet is under attack. They're able to make it off-world with a small contingent of other survivors on three ships, but the trouble is just getting started. Those responsible for the attack on their planet don't want their to be any survivors so they are in pursuit. Now to top it off, the AI system on one of the ships is acting wonky and some of the survivors are having weird side effects from the weapons used on their planet. Ezra and Kady aren't on the same ship but soon discover that their breakup is the least of their worries, if they don't get to the bottom of what's going on they're toast. Hilarious, unique, and breathtaking. I can't wait to read the sequel!!!

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Maid

This is one of those memoirs that make you think a little differently about the world. I'm not rich and privileged and certainly not wealthy, however, this books makes me realize how much I take for granted. Having a safety net of family and friends. Never being one paycheck away from homelessness. Being able to afford nights out and trips to the bookstore. I always gripe about how I wish I had more money or how I should be better at saving, but after reading Maid and seeing what one single mom can survive on a month, I feel ashamed. I've got lots of cushion. Stephanie Land's memoir is about how broken our country's welfare and workforce is. About how she had to work full time scrubbing toilets and showers only to bring home practically nothing and then be denied other government benefits that she needed to help feed her kid. It's about how no matter how hard you work, there are still barriers all around you keeping you away from achieving financial stability. It's also about one of the most undervalued and underpaid jobs in the workforce, being a maid. It's thankless, invisible work. Most won't bother to learn your name, yet for the maid, she sees all. She knows the family most intimately based on their homes. The puke in the toilet, the pills on the counter, the sad little romance books hidden in a corner, the lube on the nightstand. It's an unflinching look at what many of our poorest have to suffer through. A great memoir.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful

Wowza!! I couldn't get enough of this book. It's creepy, compelling, and akin to something off of a Black Mirror episode. This young adult sci-fi explores the possibilities of genetic engineering. What if we could get re-grow damaged lungs? Replace skin? Upgrade our vision? What if we could cure genetic deficiencies?  It all starts innocent enough. A modification here to save a life. To prolong a life. Soon there is nothing left to cure, there are no accidents that can't be fixed. The future isn't about staying alive, it's about perfection. Want to breathe underwater? There is mod for that. Need extra limbs to make you more efficient at your job? There is a mod for that. Want to be cool and edgy and unique? There are moving tattoos, extra eyes, different colored skin and more to set you apart. Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful tells the story of genetic modifications through teenagers. Each teenager is living in a different period of scientific discovery and as the future gets closer, the modifications get wilder and the story gets darker. Impossible to put down. A wildly unique book!!

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Heart of Darkness

I was expecting a little more out of this. Overall, I felt it was a little lackluster. I needed more meat to the story, it lacked......  something that I can't quite verbalize. Heart of Darkness describes one captain's journey up the Congo River into the "heart of Africa." It's dark, brooding, and ominous; nothing goes according to plan. The narrator upon arriving at his African destination; has a strange fascination with a man named Kurtz, an English brute with odd ways who is no longer in control of all his faculties. Marlow, the captain, is in awe at the darkness that lurks in the jungle and in men's hearts. Sigh. I'm not doing a very good job describing it because I couldn't really get into it.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Just Fell for Edelman, No Lie

After Reading "A Gronking to Remember" this Patriots erotica is a class above (although that isn't saying much). I didn't even know that Patriots erotica was a thing, but I can't un-know that knowledge or turn back time to un-read these "gems." Just Fell for Edelman, No Lie (ugh, this title is horrible btw) is a short little erotica that tells of a blossoming sexual relationship between Edeman and a no-nonsense bartender he falls head over heels for. Compared to other erotica it's pretty tame and very sweet. The bartender and Edelman really like each other and they have great sex. Can they make a long distance relationship work? And that's it. The whole story. Not badly written, but a little lacking. However if you are on a Patriots spank bank mission, this is much, much better than the Gronking trash out there (although that crap is amusing as hell to read).

A Gronking to Remember

Sweet Mary Mother of God! What in the hell did I just read?!?! In all honesty, I did this to myself. No one made me read this. With the Superbowl looming next weekend I though I would read some NFL erotica. I'm no Patriots fan, but despite my best searching, I could not find any Rams erotica, so I settled on this...

Despite the title, this is not a book that focuses on hot, sweaty Gronk sex. Disappointing...  This short little erotica instead focuses on one lonely housewife's intense turn-on for all things Gronk. Unable to control herself she flies into masturbation at the first hint of a Gronk pass. When he spikes the ball, climax central. Her marriage is just meh so she focuses on the pleasures of watching Gronk and getting horny. She quickly spirals out of control causing her husband to leave after she tries forcing herself on him when he's drunk, telling him to "fuck her like's he's Gronk." He drunkenly runs away and immediately crashes his car. They later decide to try and save their marriage. He takes her to a Patriots game and the book ends on a truly fucking weird note. Like, you need to read it. I can't relive that last scene. Fucking bizarre. Pardon my language, but my god. This book is something else. Read at your own peril.

Me and My Girl

Impossible to put down, this fast paced romantic suspense ends with a major cliffhanger that will leave readers waiting breathlessly for more. Me and My Girl centers on Matise and her best friend Jordan. Matise has had feelings for Jordan for years but she is convinced that he would only see her as a friend. Because of that she locks down her heart and buries her feelings. When she discovers that Jordan is engaged, Matise blows her top. She didn't even know he was seeing anyone! Convinced that this girl must be a ho after his money and not his heart Matise vows to put an end to their relationship, but against her better judgement she discovers that she actually likes his fiance. Resigned to the fact that her one true love is going to get married off (at least it's too a cool chick), she decides to make her booty call of six months an official boyfriend. Isaiah is hot and the sex is to die for.  Matise decides that Isaiah will help her get over Jordan and who knows, she just may catch real feelings for him. Not all ends well though; Jordan's fiance and Isaiah may have some dark secrets of their own. Fun, sexy, and full of intrigue.

Tales of the City

A fun and quaint little read about living in California. Tales of the City jumps around between different people trying to fulfill their dreams and find happiness in San Francisco. A midwestern secretary, a dope smoking land-lady, an unfulfilled wife, and more find their paths crossing as the plot weaves between many unlikely individuals and explores the gay scene, the modeling scene, and the free love scene to name a few. Not groundbreaking per se, but still an enjoyable and quick read.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Scooby Apocalypse vol. 2

This is a weird-ass spin-off, but still is a little satisfying. Scooby Apocalypse volume two, picks up right where the first volume ends. The gang is trapped in Mall-Mart surrounded by monsters. In volume one, Velma's nanite creation was expanded and bastardized by her four brothers who used it to unleash  hell on the world. Feeling guilty and responsible, Velma is trying to figure out how to fit in with the gang when she feels responsible for the apocalypse. To top it off Fred has gone and got himself injured so the gang really needs to stick together and tread carefully to survive. Amusing, I'll eventually get around to reading volume three.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The Joy Luck Club

I haven't picked this up since high school, but I was thrilled to get around to re-reading this. Each sentence is poetry; the Chinese customs, language, nuances, and characters float right off the page. It's a beautiful book to read. I also love the differences between the mothers and daughters; at first you think it's generational, but it's all about being raised American, in a new land with new customs. The Joy Luck Club tells of four Chinese women who immigrated to America in their youth and their four daughter who were raised American. The daughters can't understand where their parents came from, not the struggles, the humiliations, the secrets. They are too wrapped up in themselves and ashamed of their mothers and their odd beliefs. As the stories unfold (alternating chapters feature different perspectives); the mothers reminiscing about how they were raised and persevered, the daughters start to realize that they are more then their differences, they have a resilience, a strength in spirit that needed to be overcome, but deep down they are closer to their mothers than they ever thought possible. Storytelling at it's finest.

Monday, January 21, 2019

The Dirty Book Club

Surprisingly uplifting and humorous, this book (albeit a bit over the top) was pretty darn adorable. The friendships, book selections, and setting were so much fun. MJ has been living a fast paced life of work, work, more work, with a tiny bit time set aside for her long distance boyfriend. When she is passed over for a promotion that she rightfully deserves MJ decides to pack some bags and stay the summer with her hunky boyfriend in California, lord knows she has enough vacation time piled up. While beach-side she becomes restless, unsure what to do with herself. She's never had this much free time in her life. She befriends her elderly neighbor but before she can get too chummy, her neighbor up and moves to Paris. So much for a friendship. Gloria does leave behind one thing though. An invitation to join a secret book club, one that reads only dirty books. MJ's curiosity gets the better of her and she decides to go to one one meeting. Little does she know that her summer is about to drastically change and she might meet the best friends of her life. Chick-lit at its finest.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/ Ghostbusters

I won't lie, I had really low expectations going into this. These seemed like an intriguing match-up, but not one that would be executed well. While it wasn't "great," it wasn't bad, so that made me pretty happy and willing to read more if there are any more forthcoming. Basically the Ghostbusters and the turtles meet up when there is a glitch in one of the turtle's new inventions. They're sent to New York, but it's in an alternate dimension and it's one where the Ghostbusters reign supreme and no one has ever heard of the turtles. When an ancient ghost/god pulls himself into their dimension, using the same rip that the turtles traveled through, the two groups of heroes have to work together to banish the bad guy and create a machine that will send them back to their dimension. Humorous and full of great art.

Lumberjanes: The Infernal Compass

Technically a prequel to the Lumberjanes graphic novel series, this slim story about Molly and Mal is cute but not really crucial or groundbreaking. While trying to complete an orienteering outing, Molly starts to get self-conscious and unsure of her relationship with Mal. She doesn't want the other campers (all female) to get weirded out by their relationship. Maybe weirded out isn't the right word, but she doesn't want to change the group dynamic. Everyone is pretty progressive and cool in their all girl camp. While orienteering, the compass starts acting up and campers start disappearing, suddenly their relationship isn't the only thing at stake. An alright addition to the series. Not very strong, but not bad either.

Eric Stanton & the History of the Bizarre Underground

Fascinating! Well worth adding to your collection; Eric Stanton is a beautiful coffee table book and a well researched biography and history of twentieth century fetish art. I am not an experienced fetish art fan, however I loved this book! Eric Stanton had a fascinating life and it is interesting to discover his relationship with Bettie Page and the creator of Spiderman. Who would have known?!? A nice heavy duty hardcover; this impressive tome contains illustrations, drawings, and photographs on every page, all high quality prints and reproductions. Though it doesn't contain Stanton's later more explicit art, it contains most of his work through the seventies; comics, book covers, serials, and drawings. Well written, beautiful laid out, and meticulously researched; this is a must buy for art aficionados, fetish collectors, and early comic fans.

Foundation

UGH. I wanted more of a space opera! Instead I got more of a political space thriller! Foundation traces the fall of the galactic empire to the creation of the Foundation, a colony comprised of science, art, and technological development and preservation that will eventually become the second empire. Spanning decades in places, centuries in others; Foundation is more a story of the growth of a colony through time, then it is the story of people and plot. As the years progress the Foundation becomes stronger and centralized; better able to control the planets and systems around it. This audiobook had me snoozing. Just not my cup of tea, I will definitely not continue the journey by reading more of the series.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

A Bound Heart

Lark may not be wealthy or high class but she's a well thought of, beautiful lass. Set in beautiful 18th century, Scotland; Lark's world is filled with sea breeze and gardens. She works in the laird's castle making tonics and other herbal remedies catching the eye of both the laird and the local captain. After an unfortunate tragedy, she is sent to Virginia to be an indentured servant. It will take all her faith and strength to survive the voyage and the years of hard labor awaiting her. To further complicate matters she adopts a young baby whose kin have all perished on the ship and she discovers that both her admirers, the laird and the captain are also aboard. Lark is nurturing, good hearted, and always tries to look at the positive, her only downfall is that she is quite naive. She's been handed an awful lot and she doesn't know if she'll ever get to see Scotland or her beloved grandmother again, but she handles it darn well. A bit unbelievable at times (every single male character throws themselves at Lark, EVERY ONE) and the ending was a bit anti-climactic; but overall still a good cozy historical read.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Justice Gone

Fast paced and gripping, this legal thriller will grip readers from page one. When an east coast town experiences the brutal murder of an unarmed homeless man by six cops, people don't think it can get any worse.  That is, until they find out that the homeless man was a war hero undergoing PTSD treatment at a nearby counseling center. Riots and protests break out nationwide. Tessa is one of the head honchos at the treatment facility and she was particularly close to Jay, the man beaten to death by cops. She's taking it hard, but not as hard as another one of her clients, Donald, who was a war buddy and best friends with Jay. When Donald goes missing and some of the cops are found shot to death, Donald becomes suspect number one. Deep down she knows that Donald would never turn into a vigilante killer, but at the same time... who did kill those dirty cops? Broken into three parts, this legal thriller will keep readers guessing. A wonderful look into a fictional man hunt and court setting that feels all too real.

Monday, January 14, 2019

The Immortalists

I adored this book, it's not necessarily an uplifting read and it is depressing as shit, but that doesn't even matter. It's beautiful and lyrical and I loved it. When the four Gold siblings were just children they sought out a famed fortune teller to find out when their death date was. Unbeknownst to them, that small act had such control on their lives. Each section focuses on a different Gold child and how they lived out their lives. Some were fated to die young, and most end tragically. Each section picks up where the last life ended, featuring a timeline of the Gold's lives from first to die, to last. Simon ends up in California as a liberated gay man, Klara pursues her dream of magic, Daniel becomes a doctor, and the eldest Varya, a scientist. Their lives couldn't have been led more differently and yet their sense of future and death lead them on strangely similar journeys. Wonderful, literary fiction at its finest!

Thursday, January 10, 2019

An Unexplained Death

Super dark and enthralling. Mikita Brottman investigates a mysterious death in her apartment building, while also referencing back to the former hotel's sordid past as a den of suicides and murders. Rey Rivera's death raises questions not only for his family, but for the media as well. This you successful married man, ran out of the house one day never to be seen again. When he was found over a week later, it was most perplexing. It was as if he did a running leap of the thirteenth floor and landed feet-first into the former pool. He clearly died on impact, but was it suicide or something else? Since the death occurred in Mikita's building she takes a massive interest in the case. Obsessively following it for over a decade. An Unexplained Death is part historical portrait of The Belvedere (the current apartment building and former luxury hotel), part memoir (at least of the author's neuroses, fears, and mental health), part look at suicide, and part investigation into Rey Rivera's death. There's a lot going on, but it all meshes really well together and creates a unique format is hard to put down.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

The Alchemist

Meh, I don't see the hype. It wasn't bad, it wasn't great. It just wasn't my thing. The Alchemist tells the story of a young shepherd boy whose simple life is turned upside down when a traveling king, tells him where to find treasure. From there the boy goes on a long journey, following omens and good sense to try and find the treasure that lay near the pyramids. It's a little deep for me and I didn't much care for it. I don't like these kind of fables. The only good part was having Jeremy Irons narrate the audiobook version.

Less

An adorable book with an unforgettable quirky character. Andrew Less is a gay writer, but he's also so much more. He's scared, naive, hopeful, and in total denial. When his young paramour breaks it off with him and announces his marriage, Less knows he must go. He can't possibly be around while his lover get married to someone else. He clears his calendar and makes a plan. For once, he's going to start RSVPing to author events and vacations. He will get out of California and spend months traveling and forgetting all about his paramour. From an author event in NYC to a conference in Mexico to teaching a class in Germany, Less finds a way to travel for free. The only problem is, he can't escape his past no matter where he travels or what he does. Plucky, cute, inventive, and fun. I adored this book. Andrew Less is a character you won't soon forget.

No Exit

Fast paced and impossible to put down, I finished this thriller in one day! I legit could not put this down! Darby had been planning on spending Christmas alone at college, but when her sister texted her that their mother had advanced pancreatic cancer and had to have emergency surgery, Darby decides to put family squabbles aside and race home. The only problem is, she is in a race against tie. Not only does she need to speed home so she can see her mother before her surgery, she has to race through the mountains before the winter storm hits. As Darby speeds through the mountains, the roads get progressively worse. Finally, after a wiper breaks she has to take shelter at a rest stop, the roads have become impassable. Luckily for Darby, she's not alone. There are two younger guys and an older set of cousins. Unluckily for Darby, she discovers that the box van parked out front has a young child trapped in a cage. She makes that shocking discovery while trying to get cell signal to call her mother. Now Darby has to figure out who owns the van and figure out who she can trust to help get the kid to safety. But with no way to contact the police and nowhere to run because of the snow; it is going to be a long dangerous night. Soo good! I loved it!!

Monday, January 7, 2019

Salt to the Sea

No one writes teen historical fiction like Ruta Sepetys. She's phenomenal. This book was gripping from the start in its character building, intrigue, and adventure. Like one of her prior novels, this was a historical event of which I was largely unaware. Everyone knows what happened to the Titanic, but how many could tell you about the Wihelm Gustloff? It is the largest disaster in maritime history and occurred towards the end of World War II. Salt to the Sea tells of four refugees fleeing their homelands in the winter of 1945 as the Russians approach and the Germans retreat. They are all desperate to reach port and get on one of the ships that will take them to safety. They'll do anything to get out of their broken war torn countries filled with decaying bodies, starvation, cold, and soon to be Russian pillagers. Each of the refugees carries secrets and as they flock to the sea, their secrets threaten to reveal themselves. Masterfully written!