Barbarian Librarian Book Reviews
book reviews and other things from the mind of crazy bibliophile
Wednesday, March 22, 2023
Second Time Around
When Mallory discovers that she has inherited her grandmother's seaside tourist shop she takes it as a sign to take a leap of faith. The last of her children has flown the coop and marries - and she is eager for a clean slate. Mallory is a designer and the thought of renovating the little shop and apartment above it is exciting and fresh. She decides to sell her beautiful old Victorian and move to Portside to open a home décor shop and interior design business. It's not all smooth sailing though. A developer wants to buy her out and tear it down to be build a mall AND she's having trouble finding contractors to do the work she needs. Has she bitten off more than she can chew? Along the way she reconnects with childhood friends, a former crush, and re-ignites her passion for design. A perfect inspirational read for lovers of HGTV and Hallmark.
Monday, March 20, 2023
Redwood and Ponytail
Told in prose - this middle grade novel explores two girls growing feelings for each other. Kate is a prim and perfect cheerleader. She's popular and has her sights set on being cheer captain. Tam is a volleyball star - she has one best friend and but knows everyone. She doles out high fives like it's going out of style. When the two notice each other for the first time they wonder how it was possible they've never met before. A few casual conversations turns into lunch hangouts, texting, and then seeing each other play at games. The two become inseparable. And as they do their friendship starts to deepen into a little more. But is that what they both want? Emotional and wonderful - a great coming of age story about the complications of discovering your true identity.
My Life as a Potato
This was a laugh out loud fun middle grade read. Ben Hardy is pretty positive that he's been cursed by potatoes. His parents have moved away from the California beach to the potato capital of Idaho. And after a cafeteria game gone wrong Ben discovers that he has to be the new middle school mascot. A spud. The potato curse strikes again. He knows that life will be over as he knows it if any of his new friends find out about his new "job" so he keeps it under wraps. But lying to his friends is hard and who knows when the potato curse will strike again. A quick, funny, read, that also has some fun illustrations.
Thursday, March 16, 2023
Before the Ever After
Told in prose - this middle grade novel is full of heartbreak and hope. Set in the early 2000s, this novel follows one boy and his fathers worsening CTE (although in this book they don't know what his dad has yet). ZJ has always been proud of his dad, he's a superhero and as far as he's concerned he's the best pro-football player in the world. But lately he's been acting weird. He keeps repeating the same things, getting angry and forgetful; he's losing his old dad. Since his dad's headaches have progressively worsened, he's stopped playing football and he's not practicing with his team. Some days he can't even leave his darkened room. ZJ takes comfort in his three best friends, his mom's strength, and music. Beautiful and captivating.
Tuesday, March 14, 2023
The Light Pirate
I am really starting to get into cli-fi aka climate dystopians! The Light Pirate chronicles the life of a young girl who was born during a horrible, life altering hurricane. Delirious and dying her mother named her after the hurricane itself and Wanda grows up in a world much different than that of her parents. Hurricane seasons get longer and longer and Florida is barely hanging on. It is slowly reverting back to its swampy ways and the United States is ready to cut its tether to it. Her father is a lineman - one of the people who keeps the power on - but with the near constant hurricanes - how much longer is that even feasible? Wanda's best friend and mentor is a woman who lives down the street and has spent her life preparing for this exact eventuality. Known as a survivalist - if anyone can withstand what is coming it's her. This book felt more real than not and as Venice keeps sinking and the sea level keeps rising - who knows what is in store for Florida during my lifetime. A unique and captivating read!
Friday, March 10, 2023
Laugh out loud funny - this memoir is a riot. Laura Belgray unabashedly shares her highs and lows in this candid memoir. Advice on how to life your life is always conflicting and always sucks - Laura's memoir, is proof that being that being 100% you is always worth it (even when it sucks). From a sordid two year affair with her salsa instructor to post college "networking" at bars (rather than looking for jobs) to always arriving late at everything - Laura's comedic writing will win readers over with it's candor and hilarity. There is no right way to do anything. We just do the best we can with what God gave us and hope for the best. Despite the cover and sub-title this is not at all a self help book. It's a collection of humorous essays about growing up as a wealthy Jewish woman in New York City and if readers happen to glean some important truths from those stories then more power to them!
Tuesday, March 7, 2023
A gut wrenching memoir about trying to find familial love and acceptance despite a toxic and turbulent upbringing. Often ditched at his "grandparents" house because of his mother's crack addiction, Joey was forced to mature early and make space for himself in a household filled with toxic masculinity, hunger, drugs, and sexual activity. With roaches invading every conceivable space, the fridge nearly always empty, and vitriol being thrown his way; Joseph retreated into the worlds of anime and video games - trying to make sense of his life through their fantasy. Sink is told through a series of poignant vignettes - each more unsettling and upsetting than the next. It's a brutal, violent, deprecating childhood that will shock many listeners, yet nestled within the book there is hope and humor. Joey managed to survive and eventually thrive despite the odds being stacked against him as a poor, young, Black boy in Philadelphia. Narrated beautifully by the author himself - this audiobook may be a painful listen but it's necessary. Sink is fantastically written and eloquent in its despair and dysfunction; a rose amongst the thorns. The language and writing style elevate the story into a memoir that is truly a work of art.
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