Wednesday, March 30, 2016


I've been re-reading this book since I first stumbled across it in 5th grade. For being so small it's a painful read that packs an emotional punch. However hard it is to read, it's an absolutely essential Holocaust memoir, one that needs to be read, re-read, and taught for generations to come so we don't forget the brutal past. Heartbreaking, numbingly painful, and humbling; this book is educational and emotional. A must read for all, especially with the racism and bigotry rampant in this country.

The North Water

If Cormac McCarthy, The Revenant, and Moby Dick had a love child it would most definitely be this book. Set in the 18th century this book follows Henry Drax, evil as the day as long, and Patrick Sumner, an opiate addicted ex-army surgeon, as they set off on a waling mission from England. Both have secrets to hide and obstacles to overcome, little do they know that this whaling voyage is going to take a dark brutal turn. Filled with bloody graphic descriptions of sodomy, harpooning, seal slaughter, and mutiny, this is not a tale for the queasy or light hearted. Everything that can go wrong does and it's a tale of survival and wits. Meticulously researched this book sucks you into a darker past and doesn't loosen its grip until the end. Impossible to put down this gritty, fast paced, historical drama is a must read for fans of Cormac McCarthy, Moby Dick, and historical survival dramas.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016


The cover grabbed me and I was excited that it was illustrated by Farel Dalrumple (Wretches), beyond that though, this graphic novel wasn't much to write home about. Palefire is basically a glimpse into a night of a high school girl's night as she grapples with the fact that no one likes Darren, a firebug, teenage arsonist that no one cares for. She thinks there is more than meets the eye so she blows off all the advice and bails on her best friend's party so she can hang out with this misunderstood boy that's holding a candle for her. However, the night doesn't go as planned and both will have to face some hard truths. Not terribly exciting, but not awful either.

Love Letters to the Dead

It started off a little soon, but I pushed on and then boy, was I hooked. Laurel receives a writing assignment on her first day of high school to write a letter to a dead person so she writes to Kurt Cobain. She enjoys it so much that it turns into a journal of sorts and she keeps writing to other dead people (River Pheonix, Janis Joplin, Heath Ledger, Elizabeth Browning, etc.), never turning in her initial assignment. She pours out her fears, frustrations, loneliness, and developing friendships. It's heartbreaking as she laments for her sister (who died tragically young), the divorce of her parents and the fear of being too broken. It is very reminiscent of Stephen Chbosky's "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" in that it is a coming of age story that will stick with you long after you finish it. Wonderful, achingly sad, and beautiful. I may have shed a tear or two at the end, a wonderful debut!

Monday, March 28, 2016

All the Pretty Horses

This is my second time reading this McCarthy book and I may have enjoyed it even more on the second go around. I know I definitely liked it more than I did the first one Cormac McCarthy book I ever read (Blood Meridian). Written in his signature southern, rustic drawl the story follows a young rancher and his friend who have nothing to lose.

The two teens leave Texas with nothing but their horses and dreams of a quiet existence in the wild Mexican frontier. On the way they encounter another young man who ends up tampering with their dreams of an idyllic future. What can their friendship withstand? Trials, guilt, love?

This is a must read for fans of westerns, literary novels, and Cormac McCarthy.

Furiously Happy

Jenny Lawson's second book is another laugh out loud masterpiece. One wouldn't think that a book about mental illness could be soo funny and empowering, but if anyone could do it, it's Lawson. She talks candidly and hilariously about her own struggles and how she faces (or doesn't face) her myriad of mental health issues, depression, and other disorders. I made the great decision to listen to the audiobook, and Lawson narrates it with ease and hilarity, it just begs to be listened to. This book also helps listeners to understand mental illness a little bit better and helps create empathy for people suffering some such a misunderstood disease and stigma. I read anything that the bloggess writes, she's a veritable wordsmith and storyteller!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Hot Pterodactyl Boyfriend

Books like this defy description. I was immediately drawn to the bizarre title and even more bizarre description. How could I not read something so crazy?! There have been a lot of teen werewolf and vampire romances (i.e. paranormal romance) but there have been little to none inter-specie's romance for teen readers. Young adults need not look further! Shiels, a nerdy, over accomplished braniac finds herself spiraling out of control her senior year in high school when a pterodactyl named Pyke comes to school. "An endangered life, a rare spirit, newly arrived from the great beyond." She finds herself oddly infatuated with him and her relationship with her boyfriend and her studies start to go to the wayside as she finds herself dreaming about Pyke's beak and other anatomy. At the school dance she boogies her way onto the stage where Pyke's band is performing and wrangle dances with him on stage in front of the entire student body. After that incident her nose is turned purple and she feels more in tune with the pterodactyl than ever, her high school likfe is about to get a lot more complicated. Why? "Because they had seen the real her, stripped of her title, her costumes, her armor, her aura - they had seen her in the wrangle dance, another of Pyke's girls. Chosen by him, marked by him, slave to him." Absurd, bizarre, and insane. I don't even know what to feel about this book.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016


Very interesting concept that challenges the readers notion of beauty and how society shapes our opinions on what is beautiful and ugly. In this teen dystopian novel, Tally is getting ready to turn 16, the age where she'll finally be given the surgery to transform her from an ugly to pretty, she can hardly wait. Her best friend has already made the transformation and is waiting for her in New Pretty while she's stuck in Uglyville all by herself. A few weeks before her surgery she meets a new friend who tells her that beyond New Pretty Town and Uglyville there is a town where uglies live in peace without ever undergoing the surgery to become pretty. Tally can't understand why anyone would ever want to remain ugly but after Shay runs away, she in confronted with some very hard truths and a very hard decision. Betray her new friend or stay ugly forever?

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Quality of Silence

This one started off a trifle slow, but thoroughly peaked my interest 50 pages in and then I could not put the damn thing down. I thought it was just a suspense novel, but it turned out to be so much more than that, although I don't want to divulge too much and ruin the twist at the end.

Yasmin and her ten year old deaf daughter have just flown from England to Alaska to meet her husband and when they arrive they are giving awful news. The small village that Matt was staying at to film the wildlife has burnt down killing everyone it including her husband. Unable to believe the news she is convinced she must go to Norther Alaska and find her husband because the state troopers won't search for him since they believe he is dead. Armed with only her guts and her wildly smart and mature ten year old, they convince a trucker headed north to let them tag along for several hundred miles. When he is taken ill and rushed to a hospital, Yasmin uses her engineering degree to drive the rig up the ice highways to search for Matt. She soon realizes that it's not just her and her daughter on the road, someone is following her. What is trying to stay hidden out in this barren hellishly cold landscape? Is her husband even still alive?

It's chilling (literally, you get cold while reading this; the descriptions of the weather conditions are spot on), riveting, and you can't help but rooting for the mother daughter duo even in face of the horrible odds. A masterful book and I look forward to reading more by this author.

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

Thursday, March 17, 2016

All About Love

I don't know if I'm just too cynical or what but this book didn't move me near as much as I desired it to. There are thirteen chapters in this collection, each an essay on a different aspect or characteristic of love. From community to greed to forgiveness to justice, each mini essay tried to tie in the author's experiences with those of renowned scholars, philosophers, and poets. It's not that I didn't enjoy it, I just found it at times repetitive and wandering. I'm not disagreeing with the author on any of her laments or hope for love, I just found my brain drifting away as I tried to focus on reading this. One passage that really stood out to me was, "Many of choose relationships of affection and care that will never become loving because they feel safer. The demands are not as intense as loving requires. The risk is not as great. So many of us long for love but lack the courage to take risks." A very thoughtful, insightful, feminist, and analytical approach to viewing and understanding love.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Bollywood Bride

I'm a sucker for all things Bollywood so I was pretty stoked to try out this book, while it wasn't what I was initially expecting, it wasn't half bad. Rai Parker is Bollywood's favorite star, nicknamed "the ice queen" she is known to stay out of the spotlight and is never in the gossip columns for lewd behavior. She may not be happy, but she's been running from her past for ten years and is currently hiding in plain sight. All that changes though when she gets a call from her beloved cousin who asks her to come back home for his wedding. She can't refuse him so she must go back to Chicago to wrestle with the memories of her past. When she arrives the first thing she sees is the man whose heart she broke, and she instantly feels guilty and is on edge. She becomes even more alarmed when she realizes that he too is staying at her auntie's house and that she'll be in close proximity to him for ten days. He wants answers and she wants to hide. My favorite thing about this book is the desi-ness, the terms of endearment, customs, and food. While I wasn't in love with either of the main characters (both of which are flawed), I was able to look past that and enjoy most of the book.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

13 Hours

I'll admit, I saw this movie first. Guilty, I know. But now that I've read the book, I can safely say that the movie follows the book impressively well! Before seeing the movie or reading this, I'll admit that I was 100% sure what had happened in Benghazi. Political pundits seemed to be yelling about it all the time and there was a lot of finger pointing, I know that some Americans had died, but really the news skewed it so much that I wasn't able to make heads or tails of a lot of it. This book really broke down the whole situation by telling it from the perspective of those that had boots on the ground. Mitchell Zuckoff interviewed the Annex security team to piece together the events that took place and tell it in a way that wasn't overly technical but was very narrative and flowed well. It's a harrowing and devastating account that will have readers flying through the book.

Monday, March 14, 2016

A Christmas Escape

Anyone looking for a historical Christmas mystery has come to the wrong place. Anne Perry has created a short, small predictable mystery but thrown in the whole Christmas thing as an afterthought. Nothing about this story screams Christmas except perhaps the last line. Charles has gone to a small island for the holidays to bask in the sun on the side of the volcano. Things take a dark turn when one of the men staying at the "hotel" (more like B & B) says that someone tried to kill him. As if things couldn't get anymore dangerous the volcano starts to grumble. Are they all in danger? Will the volcano blow? A quick read narrated beautifully by Steven Crossly.

I received this audiobook for free from Library Thing in return for my honest, unbiased opinion.

The Jazz Files

The first in a new series, this charming little mystery will delight readers. It's 1920 and Poppy Denby is new to London and determined to take in all the sights and sounds. Lured by her handicapped aunt with the promise of employment, she leaves behind her overprotective parents and seeks adventure. She quickly finds employment at a local newspaper and makes friends with the handsome press photographer and a local actress. Poppy soon finds herself in over her head after one of her coworkers mysteriously dies. Is something amiss? She soon finds herself playing the dutiful journalist an investigating all leads; she stumbles upon a web soo tangled that suffragettes, Marie Curie, a Victorian Cross wearing veteran, and a mental health patient are all involved. How will she ever get to the bottom of it? Intriguing and it keeps you guessing to the end. For fans of cozy mysteries and period pieces.

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

Saturday, March 12, 2016


The cover was the greatest thing about this book; the story line was just too implausible, even Hollywood would have a hard time making this believable. Basically this super-over-the-top-horny-divorced-mom is dying to get laid. She has decided that there are no men in their forties that are safe, std free, and unwilling to be in a relationship so she jokingly tells her married friends that she needs to start boning her married friend's husbands. One of her friends decides to take her up on her joke offer to jump start her and her spouses sex life, next thing you know a business is born. This is essentially 50 Shades of Gray for mom in their thirties and forties. There are lots of sex scenes, masturbation, and bitter diatribes about marriage; a win for everyone! Personally not my cup of tea, I could not suspend belief long enough to make this story work.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Gotham City Sirens: Union

Lavishly illustrated, this comic collection is a definite treat. "With its dark knight fallen, Gotham's dark angels ascend..." Cat woman decides to pair up with Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn because after having her heart ripped out, she realizes that there is safety in numbers. Without Batman, Gotham has retreated back into darkness and even these feminine criminals need to watch their backs.

Cat woman is happy for the company, but even so sometimes she wants to strangle her new friends and roommates. Ivy is determined to figure out Batman's identity, even if it means drugging cat woman, and Harley Quinn won't stop going on about the Joker. Loads of good fun, this kept me more than entertained.

The Silence of the Sea

This book gave me chills and kept me guessing all the way til the end. It was reminiscent of the campy horror movie "Ghost Ship" so that aspect appealed to me as did the mystery elements.

A luxury liner crashes into port and when the police get on board they discover that there is no one on board. All 7 passengers, three crew members and a family, have vanished into thin air. A lawyer starts working with the police to get to the bottom of it, but things keep getting more confusing and bodies start showing up. What happened? Named the best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year, this book was a real treat, I couldn't put it down!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Sinatra: The Chairman

Kaplan, James. Sinatra: The Chairman. 35 CDs. unabridged. 41 hrs. Recorded Books. ISBN 9781490694160. 

Kaplan's riveting companion to Frank: The Voice, debuts just in time for Sinatra's centennial. Meticulously researched, this biography fleshes out the man behind the legend and chronicles Frank's life starting with his first Academy Award win all the way though his death in 1998. Almost bigger than life, "Ol' Blue Eyes" was without a doubt, the most influential and recognized entertainer of the 20th century. Kaplan does a marvelous job piecing together Sinatra's professional and personal life to give readers a comprehensive look at Hollywood's most complex man. This dense sequel leaves no stone un-turned and examines his successes and failures whether it be his movie flops, marriages, music, or mob ties. Dedicated "Frank"ophiles will find new stories and material to absorb and even those unfamiliar with his legend will find themselves riveted. Donald Corren beautifully narrates the forty one hour audio-book and helps bring to life many of the various accents and song lyrics. An essential biography for any Sinatra collection worth its salt and an absolute must read. - Erin Cataldi, Johnson Co. Public Library, Franklin, IN

Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Beaver Show

Crass, crazy, and compelling, this stripper's journey is wonderfully intriguing. Not for the faint of heart this sordid tale of stripping and finding one's way as a sex worker isn't for everyone but for those that brave it this is a wonderful read. "The Beaver Show" strings together stories about how Jacqueline, a lesbian Canadian, got her start stripping in Australia and eventually moved on to other countries increasing her skill set, knowledge, and customer base. The stories range from hilarious to disgusting to eye opening. Peppered throughout the stories are wonderful little drawings and stripper tips that even the most enterprising of sex workers may find useful. Wonderfully feminist and empowering, I enjoyed this book immensely. It reminded me a lot of Diablo Cody's memoir, "Candy Girl" and makes me want to read more memoirs of this kind!

Friday, March 4, 2016

Honky Tonk Samurai

I'll admit, I have never read any of the other books in the series and I picked this book up solely because the cover was so badass. Even though this book was the eleventh in the series I didn't feel as if I missed out on too much, they alluded to some other cases and characters but nothing big. Overall I enjoyed this quirky mystery novel about two best friends in the private eye business. Hal is a white trash rebel and Leonard is a big black gay veteren, together they combine their brains and brawn to tackle whatever cases they've been given. When a little old lady asks them  for help finding her granddaughter, five years lost, they never imagine the trouble it will lead them to. Motorcycle gangs, the Dixie Mafia, high end escorts, fancy cars, and assassins that cut the balls off their victims for fun are just the tip of the iceberg. Good fun all around, I wouldn't mind reading more of the series, especially since it's a tv show now!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Born With Teeth

One of the most fantastic memoirs I have ever read. I had to stop and remind myself at times that this wasn't a fictional piece of work, it was someone's life. Very fast paced and masterfully written this memoir recounts Kate Mulgrew's childhood, acting, the pain of giving up a child for adoption, finding and losing love, and the eccentricities of her family. It was riveting and so well written that I couldn't put it down. Kate is a gifted actress (best known for her roles in Star Trek: Voyager, Ryan's Hope, and Orange is the New Black) and storyteller; she weaves moments of her life together to create a beautiful tapestry that will enchant readers and leave them wanting more. Kate deals with tough issues: divorce, adoption, staying true to oneself, motherhood, and death but still manages to keep it positive and hopeful. I didn't want it to end and was sorely saddened when it inevitably did.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Democracy in Black

A book that really makes you face the harsh realities of racism in this country and for me a perfect read for Black History Month. I knew I took my "white privilege" for granted before, but reading this made me ashamed to be a white American. This is one of those books that will light a fire under your ass and make you want to do something. Author, Eddie S. Glaude Jr. compiles a collection of essays; part memoir, history, and manifesto. This nonfiction book seeks to impassion readers to take action and abolish the value gap, that is the whites are valued more than blacks. He writes, "...we must close the value gap and uproot racial habits by doing democracy, once again, in black." He is very critical of President Obama and other black liberals and voices concern that there aren't more to carry on the power, the youth must take on the movement. An empowering read.

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