Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Book of Unknown Americans

This book made me feel, which is more than I can say about a lot of other novels. It pulled at my heartstrings and made me open my eyes to an issue that a lot of Americans don't really think or care about much, immigration. Arturo and Alma move from Mexico to the US (legally, in case you're wondering) to seek help for their brain damaged daughter. They've been told that the schools in the United States are better equipped to deal with special needs children so they decide to uproot their lives so that their beautiful daughter Maribel might have a shot a rehabilitation. Arturo takes an unskilled low paying job at a mushroom farm and his wife and daughter settle in to their new apartment. They find themselves surrounded by immigrants from all over: Panama, Puerto Rico, Paraguay, etc. Together they form a mismatched community or safe haven. They have each others backs as they try to adjust to the American way of life. One of the teenage boys from Panama sets his sight on Maribel and looks past her brain damage to see a sweet, loving, confused girl. Together they try to navigate their relationship just as their parents are doing.

Beautifully told and heartbreaking this novel is told through the voices of the immigrants. Each resident in the apartment complex tells their story on why they came to America and how it has or hasn't lived up to their expectations. The two key voices however, are Alma and Mayor (the Panamanian boy), and each vignette helps piece together the story of trying to make a life in America.

It's a fast, hard to put down book filled with compassion, brutal honesty, and the perseverance of the human spirit.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


Part memoir, part essay, part humorous anecdotes, this lively audiobook narrated by the author herself is a must for any fan of Tina Fey or comedic books. I literally laughed out loud multiple times listening to this, it was too funny not to. Tina Fey regales listeners with stories of growing up, her father, her heritage, working at Saturday Night Live, her honeymoon, being a mother, 30 Rock, and Sarah Palin. There is something in this for everyone. As far as audiobooks go, this one is fairly short, clocking in at only 5 discs, this is due in part to the hilarious fast paced narration of Tina. Even though it's funny, Tina also does a great job of tackling serious issues such as sexism, politics, motherhood, and more. She's not just funny, she's got brains too!! This is a must listen. I can't imagine anyone not liking this!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Hansel & Gretel

I think I was expecting a little MORE, but then again, this is a kid's book. Pages alternate between spine tingly black and white illustrations and Neil Gaiman's version of Hansel and Gretel. He doesn't add any new twists or tricks to the story, it's the classic Grimm version we all grew up with. That being said it's still a great read for children who are interested in folk tales. This isn't necessarily anything to write home about, the illustrations are good, the story is good, but it's nothing new or exciting. In the back of the book there is a brief blurb on the oral and written history of Hansel and Gretel with a little bibliography. Alright, but not amazing.


Clever, very clever. This book reminded me a lot of Bradbury and "Something Wicked This Way Comes." It's got a great and electrifying "villain" that will haunt you way after you finish this book. Jamie Morton recounts five decades of his life and regales readers with the story of his fifth business, the ever evolving Reverend Charles Jacobs. The Rev makes appearances throughout Jamie's life and while some good has come of it, Jamie feels the shadow creeping over him. Stephen King builds up the suspense and. as always, has a terrifying conclusion. While it's not scary all the way through it can be quite chilling. This is a story of debts owed, life on the other side, addiction, and fanaticism. A must read for any Stephen King fan!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


I don't know if my expectations were too high or what, but I was not a huge fan of this book. It was kind of like the Disney movie Atlantis, huge potential = major letdown. I had such high hopes for this book. Sirens?! A city under the sea?!? What could go wrong?! Apparently everything, because I was unimpressed with the whole thing. Rio and her sister Bay have always lived Below in Atlantia, but for as long as she can remember, Rio has wanted to go above. When her mother dies Rio promises her sister that she'll never leave Atlantia, but that all backfires when her sister abandons her and goes Above instead. Now Rio is stuck Below and filled with doubt. Why would her sister leave her? Was her mother murdered? How can she sneak above? To top everything off, Rio is a Siren, but she hides it from everyone because it's dangerous and could mean a life of servitude. Will Rio find the answers she's looking for? Will she unexpectedly find love along the way? Will she ever make it Above? Read if you really want to find out. If not... you're not missing out. Great concept, but... it just doesn't mesh. Something is off about this story.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Yes Please

Just like Mindy Kaling's book, this memoir made me believe that I could and should best friends with Amy Poehler. It's hilarious, raw, honest, insightful, intriguing, and beguiling. It's great! There are short essays, tell alls, poems, pictures, funny lists, and more.

Amy talks a little about her childhood, how she fell in love with improv, Saturday Night Live, Tina Fey, her marriage, children, and pregnancy, and of course, Parks and Rec. It was awesome and it made me appreciate her even more as an actress and comedian. She put a lot of hard work into getting where she is today and it was interesting to learn how she started on that journey.

Basically, you'll love this. If you like funny memoirs written by strong funny females (Mindy Kaling, Tina Fey, Jenny Lawson, Caitlin Moran, etc.) then this book is definitely for you. Also, if you like her as an actress then you will love this, it's not just for women either, every should appreciate her ridiculous humor. Soo much fun!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Martian

READ THIS BOOK! I've read some pretty amazing shit this year, but this one takes the cake. It is hands down the best book I've read in 2014. Simply... mind blowing! It's Macgyver meets Castaway... but on Mars.

It's labeled as science fiction but it seems so stunningly real that it could happen some day. Like in the not to distant future. Author, Andy Weir puts his nerdy engineering and space skills to the test in this book by brilliantly bringing to life an unimaginable scenario. Astronaut Mark Watney is mistakenly left on Mars after a mission goes wrong. His crew thinks him dead and are ordered to abort the mission and go home. Mark has to use all his skills and resolve to stay alive on this desolate planet. All he has is a small base, 2 rovers, and enough food to last 300 days. Can he re-establish contact with earth? Can he make the food stretch? Can he find the will to survive? It sounds serious and depressing, but it's anything but. It's witty, informative, and damn smart. Mark tries to make the best of his shitty situation and his daily logs contain dark humor and an amazing strength to believe.

You have to read it! Simply amaze-balls. I can hardly believe this is Andy Weir's first book, it's genius, well-researched, and has qualities to draw readers of all genres in. I cannot wait to see the movie version coming out next winter!

For fans of... anyone that has a brain. READ IT!

I Received this book for free from Blogging for Books in return for my honest, unbiased opinion.

My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories

I LOVED this short story collection! I just want to wrap up this book and give it to all my friends for Christmas. It's freaking adorable! The collection of authors who have stories in here is impressive, they're all kings and queens of the YA market. There is Holly Black, Rainbow Rowell, David Levithan, Gayle Forman, Laini Taylor and several more. Each short story is holiday themed romance, but beyond that, they vary wildly! There is Hannakuh, New Years, Krampus Day; Kelly Link throws some fantasy in her London Christmas story, David Levithan throws ho ho homosexuals in (adorable and sad story, as always), Holly Black gets wild in "Krampuslauf," and there is much much more. I read this book in a span of one day, and I was not disappointed in a single story! I think my two favorites were by Holly Black and Stephanie Perkins. This is a must read for teens and adults this holiday season. You seriously won't be disappointed. Best holiday book I've read in a long time, perhaps... ever?!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

In Real Life

An insightful and quick read for fans of graphic novels, gaming, and the global economy. I literally read this bad boy in about half an hour. It's wonderfully illustrated (Sarge looks just like Madame Medusa from "The Rescuers," it's awesome!) and it will get teens (and maybe adults) thinking about politics, economics, and what constitutes right and wrong. Anda joins Coarsegold online, an online rpg, that she quickly becomes obsessed with. She makes new friends and quickly moves her way up the ranks (or rather levels) and befriends a gold farmer, a person who illegally harvests treasures in the game to sell them for real money. Things aren't as black and white though she soon realizes. The person behind the gold farmer is a kid her age in China who works 14+ hours a day in this game just to make ends meet. It's a thought provoking read about the "who" behind our games, clothes, and other items. Not to be missed.

Gabi: A Girl in Pieces

What a stunning debut for teens! Girls of all ages and walks of life will appreciate this blunt and honest glimpse into the life of a teenage girl that is just trying hard to get by. It's hard for Gabi, on overweight girl with an overbearing Mexican mother, sullen brother, meth addicted father, pregnant best friend, and another one that's gay. Is it too much for life to be normal? She brilliantly narrates her "over-dramatic life" in this diary and fills it with poetry, letters, and daily observations. Trying to accept your family, navigate boys, feel good about yourself and your heritage, and figure out the future are just some of the things she touches on. It's laugh out loud funny and brutally insightful. A must read for teenage girls or really anyone. This book was just fantastic!

Station Eleven

This will definitely have a place on my shelf as one of my favorite post-apocalyptic literary novels (nothing will ever beat Stephen King's "The Stand" tho). Everything in this book was beautifully crafted and deftly tied together, it's really a marvel. It all begins one night at a theater in Toronto, the lead, a famous actor playing King Lear, falls dead in the middle of a performance and it seems to mark the beginning of the end. Soon after an apocalyptic flu sweeps the globe killing nearly everyone (99.99999999%) ten, fifteen, and twenty years later some survivors begin to suspect that their paths may be linked in ways that they could never have imagined. Arthur Leander, the famous actor portraying King Lear, had an impact on others that lasted far longer than his acting career and celebrity. This moving novel takes the reader back in forth in time and tells the stories of those that survived the pandemic and forged on. It's truly a gem.

Friday, November 7, 2014

As You Wish

LOVED this!! Reading this memoir on the filming of "The Princess Bride" brought back soo many good memories for me. It's definitely one of my all time favorite movies and getting to read about what happened behind the scenes was a real treat. Cary Elwes talks about all the different cast members, the director Rob Reiner, the author/ screenwriter and all the different scenes. Learning about the fire swamp scene and the greatest sword fight of all time was definitely intriguing. Four months of training for a three minute sequence!

There are also lots of pictures, quotes, and random facts. This book is just adorable. It's perfect for fans of the movie or the original book. Disclaimer, even though I loved it, Cary talked A LOT about himself and had quotes from cast members talking him u. After a while, I was like, "OK, I get it!" This book would be a perfect christmas gift for... like everyone on your list! Inconceivable, I know!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

If You Follow Me

Fans of BBC shows (Vicar of Dibley, Hetty Wainthrop, etc) and quaint country life should most definitely pick up this series! Inspirational fiction isn't usually known for its tongue in cheek humor or awkward hilarity, so I was pleasantly surprised to see that this had both. Author, Pam Rhodes, does an excellent job of bringing the Dunbridge parish to life and making its good humored and overworked curate supremely lovable. Neil, the curate, and the Church's gardener (a nonbeliever of all things!), Claire, are engaged to be wed. All is well with the world until, Claire's son's father unexpectedly comes back onto the scene. Between his busy work schedule and Claire's former flame, Neil is all a flutter. But there is no rest for the wicked! Parish life is demanding, there is a local talent show, dissent between the flower ladies, a young mother fleeing from her abusive husband and much more to be dealt with. It's laugh out loud funny, and surprisingly sentimental at times. If more inspirational fiction were like this, realistic, humorous, and honest, it would definitely attract a larger following.

 I received this book for free from Kregel Publishing in return for my honest, unbiased review.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Walking Dead: Book Ten

Ahhhhhh!!! I waited forever for this installment and it still left me hanging!! Why must you do this to me Robert Kirkman!! I was all ready for the epic war between Negan and Rick, and I wrongly assumed it would all be settled in this volume, but no! Neither can seem to get the upper hand on the other! This collection is filled with attacks and counter attacks and (SPOILER!) the death of the only animal we've been introduced to, Shiva. Still bitter about that. They finally get a cool, viscous pet tiger and BAM the damn zombies take him down.

Another great installment, I literally cannot wait for the next one. I am so impatient!

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Woman Code

Fans of female empowerment books, look out, there's a new book for you! Former White House correspondent, journalist, and TV personality, Sophia A. Nelson, delivers a book that will help you unlock your life with twenty powerful keys. Split into five sections: personal, emotional, spiritual, professional, and relational code, Nelson attempts to help readers find and believe in simple truths that will help raise womankind up. Before we can be better spouses or mother, we have to be better for ourselves. The self comes first, otherwise we can't properly take care of and appreciate the ones we love. The crux of Nelson's beliefs, is that we need to know our value as woman. Once you know your value and potential you can make peace with your past and learn to live authentically. Each chapter, or key, explains several concepts, gives "real life examples" and then has a section on how to "live the code." At the end there also key words and discussion questions in the back (it would make for a thought provoking book club). Overall, I learned some quality things, I definitely think that it's a good guide to empower and inspire confidence in woman. I felt that many of the keys were obvious (maybe they just were to me) and themes could get very repetitive but overall, I commend Nelson on creating a book that many women will eat up. Hopefully it inspires several generation of woman to do more with their lives.

I received this book for free from Revell Reads in return for my honest, unbiased opinion.

The Nightingale

Hannah, Kristin. The Nightingale. 14 CDs. unabridged. 17.5 hrs. Macmillan Audio. 2015.

Bestselling author, Kristin Hannah (Firefly Lane), outdoes herself in this heart wrenching tour de force. Easily one of the most anticipated novels of 2015, Hannah vividly brings to life the story of two sisters fighting for their lives in Nazi occupied France. Viann, the older and more passive of the two, fights for normality for her and her daughter in the countryside; while Isabelle, the passionate one, finds herself longing to fight with the French resistance in Paris. Filled with human compassion, suffering, romance, and constant danger, this impossibly compelling story will bring tears to the eyes of listeners. Viann and Isabelle learn the hard way that bravery and strength can take on many forms. The bonds of sisterhood may be tested, but can never broken. Polly Stone delivers an impeccable narration of The Nightingale that brings the sisters and wartime France to life with a distinctive and memorable set of voices that will keep listeners coming back for more. Verdict Fans of Kristin Hannah and historical fiction will find themselves immensely pleased with this thought provoking novel.  - Erin Cataldi, Johnson Co. Public Library, Franklin, IN