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.