Monday, April 30, 2018

The Bell Jar

Wow.... What a profoundly beautiful and haunting book. The prose, emotions, and imagery are out of this world; it's truly a groundbreaking rally cry for mental health and feminism. I'm disappointed that it took me this long in my life to get around to reading such a classic, but I do get a sick sort of satisfaction that I'm reading this book at pretty much the same age as Plath was when she committed suicide. I'm sad she never saw this book published, although the notoriety of her suicide I'm sure helped propel this book even further since "The Bell Jar" dealt with depression and suicide. I feel like this book is a right of passage for young women. It's like "Catcher in the Rye." This book captured depression so completely and realistically, that it is honestly is making me a little depressed right now. "The Bell Jar" centers on a 19 year old college girl who seemingly has it all; she's in New York after having won a fantastic magazine award with twelve other young ladies and even though she has nothing bringing her down, she can't even bear to be complacent. Her depression grows more enveloping until her only solution is to try to get rid of it completely, by killing herself. Wow. A heavy, depressing, important read.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Kind is the New Classy

Cameron Bure, Candace. Kind is the New Classy. 5 CDs. unabridged. Zondervan. 2018. ISBN 9780310352297.

Celebrity Candace Cameron Bure's (Full House, The View) latest inspirational title discusses the power of living graciously and how developing one's faith can assist readers on the road to kindness. Each chapter delves into an area of life that women can improve on with a little more kindness; friendship, family, decision making big and small, and discovering purpose. In a society that has such conflicting ideals, Candace seeks to help readers discover God's true purpose for them and encourages readers to dig deep and discover truths that too often are kept buried. Kindness not only improves the lives of those around us, but it drastically improves the one giving it. A little kindness can have a ripple effect into the lives of others and Candace strives hard to make that clear though personal testimony and God's word, that kindness is truly the new classy. Expertly narrated by the author herself, Candace's sweet and charming tone leaves no doubt that's she's smiling and laughing her way though this great narration. This latest self help novel will find a large audience not only among her fans, but within church groups and women's bible studies. - Erin Cataldi, Johnson Co. Public Library, Franklin, IN

The Broken Girls

This awful cover art almost turned me away from what was, really, a very good book. It was suspenseful and the way the story unfolded with two story-lines between 1950 and 2014, keeps the story engaging and at the end of your seat. I was really impressed with how the author kept a few pretty complex story-lines together without confusing readers and pulled all those loose threads together at the end, for a pretty compelling and chilling ending. Idlewild boarding school for young ladies is not a nice place. It's dark, foreboding, and many say it's haunted. In 1950 four roommates are convinced there is a ghost haunting them and the grounds. She goes by Mary Hand and you can't let her in. They're not alone, decades of girls before them have written about and passed on legends about the haunting of Mary. In 2014, a journalist is appalled to discover that the long vacant Idlewild boarding school has been bought and is being restored. In the nineties the journalist's sister was found found brutalized and murdered in the athletic field and the place has haunted her ever since. During construction, the crews find the body of a teenager in a well, but it's not new, it's decades old. She decides she has to research and write this story. There is too much tragedy at the boarding house to be a coincidence. Fast paced and impossible to put down!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Head On

Holy cow, what an amazing follow up! I read this bad boy from start to finish in one day because I was so hooked! Head On is the follow up to Lock In which I adored a few years ago. I didn't give it a re-read before reading this and I thought I would be a little rusty on all the particulars but I was not. Win! John Scalzi continues to dazzle with his complex and brilliantly detailed worlds. This novel picks up not to long after Lock In, and follows FBI agents Chis Shane and Leslie Vann as they try to get to the bottom of an athlete's death. Hadens (or those with lock in syndrome) don't generally get to be star athletes due to their robot bodies (called threeps). However the sport of Hilketa involves violent matches with threeps so it's perfect for Hadens. Even though it's a violent sport, it's safe since those playing are really locked in, in their beds, but one day a player dies and it's up to Shane and Vann to get to the bottom of it and figure out if it was an accident or if there is something else sinister going on. Fascinating and fun, world building at its best! I can't wait for the next in the series!!!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Lost Stars

I don't know why I was surprised this was so good, but it was a damn solid tie in to the star wars universe. And even though it's labelled young adult, I think it reads above that. This book about two nobody kids from an outer rim planet bonding together despite their differences to embrace their love of flying. They decide to join the empire together to bring honor to their families and to fly in the greatest fleet the galaxy has ever seen. As children they easily bought into the empire's lies but once they make it through the academy and start serving as officers they see first hand how destructive and manipulative it is. Eventually Thane can't take it anymore and deserts, swearing to never join the rebel alliance, because to him they are just as bad. But as the war churns on, he realizes what the rebels are trying to save. Ciena on the other hand, keeps ranking up in the empire. She's not happy with everything she sees going on but on her planet you never break an oath, so she continues to serve despite her better judgement. These two friends become star crossed lovers serving on opposite sides of the war. Through their eyes you see the construction of the death stars, hear of the heroics of Han Solo and Luke Skywalker, see the battle on Hoth, and so much more. It's a lot of fun viewing the original trilogy through two young set of eyes on opposites sides of the war. An AMAZING tie in.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Angela's Ashes

I haven't picked this book up since middle school, but damn, it was still as powerful.Frank McCourt recounts his childhood in the Irish slums with such tenacity, hilarity, and vividness; that you feel as if you are there with him. Only an author such as McCourt could make such a trying, poverty stricken, childhood into a story of strength and humor, and belief. As a child he grew up having to accept handouts because his father was a drunk and would drink away whatever little work money he was able to get. Due to the family's malnourishment and lack of proper housing; Frank lost three young siblings to illness, and spent his entire childhood hungry and in and out of hospitals. Despite all that he was able to look towards the future and worked hard to save money to go to America. He used his brains to escape the poverty cycle and Angela's Ashes is just the first of his memoirs. There are others (that I have not read yet) that recount his life in America, his teaching job, and his adult life. A wonderful memoir, and if you get a chance, listen to it. The author narrates it himself and you won't want to miss out on his Irish accent and singing of bawdy tavern songs.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

My Lady's Choosing

This was a fun freaking read. This is an adult choose your own adventure for women. You get to play as a penniless heroine who must choose between a sexy kilted Scotsman, a sultry brooding widower, and an infuriatingly handsome noble; trouble and adventure are around every corner. Where will your path take you? It's laugh out loud funny and full of super steamy scenes (if you play it right you can sleep with all the eligible men!). Inventive and fun, I hope they make more interactive novels for adults, but honestly this is a great start. I didn't try to find every possible ending, but I did play it through four times with equally raunchy results. Nostalgic and hilarious!


This book seemed an awful lot like "The Night Circus" but for young adults. It wasn't bad, but it didn't quite tickle my fancy. It was a little too fanciful, over the top, and nonsensical. Nothing quite added up. What was part of the "game?" What was magic? What was death? What's the point? Caravel is basically a magical 5 day event where participants are invited to solve the game or riddle to win a wish. It's invite only, there are no rules, and participants don't know what's real or not. When Scarlet gets invitations in the mail she's excited, but knows there is no way she can go. She's due to marry a man she's never meet in two weeks, plus their father will NEVER let her and her sister leave the island. But then her younger reckless sister, Donatella, won't take no for an answer and whisks them off the island with the aid of a young sailor. When they arrive at Caraval, Donatella mysteriously disappears and Scarlet must solve the game to save her sister. The only trouble is, she has no idea how to play. Whimsical and unique. I don't know if I like it enough to continue with the series though.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Two Girls Down

Pretty solid thriller, kept me guessing until the end. My only major beef with it, is that you have a hard time telling who is the narrator. It switches constantly; mainly between Vega and Cap (two private investigators), sometimes the mother, and sometimes it inexplicably switches to third person. It was a little odd to say the least. The two private investigators are trying to find two little girls who were abducted out of a parking lot. For Alice Vega, finding missing children is her specialty (although more often than not they're dead by the time she finds them); she flies out from California to help assist in the investigation. Cap on the other-hand, is a local. He used to work with the cops but after a scandal that resulted in a man overdosing and dying in his cell, he resigned and has been working as a private investigator; catching cheating husbands and skips. When Vega enlists him to help with the missing girls, he isn't thrilled, but quickly he gets back into his element and they start putting pieces together and start catching leads that the police aren't. Are the girls alive? Why would anyone abduct them? Are there more missing girls? Overall it was a fast paced read.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Tales of India

Not only was this a fun read; it was lavishly illustrated and bound, making it a truly gorgeous book. It's colorful, contains a beautiful purple ribbon as a bookmark, and has sixteen traditional folktales from India. Not just from one culture, tales included are Bengal, Punjab, and Tamil Nadu. They are all interspersed into three sections: animal tales, outwitting and outwitted, and life and death. They vary in length, but all are fascinating and completely new to me. A wonderful collection to diversify your library and educate readers on Indian folktales. All the stories contained were completely new to me and entrancing, a wonderful collection!

Deadpool: Isn't It Bromantic?

I love that rapport between Spiderman and Deadpool, it's funny, relevant, and highly inappropriate irreverent; the best kind of fun! Deadpool is secretly obsessed with Spiderman and keeps tagging along even though he's not wanted. He uses his time schmoozing up to Spiderman and trying to find out more about his boss, Peter Parker. Deadpool has received a hit on Peter Parker and keeps wondering how such a good guy like Spiderman could work for an evil guy like Peter Parker. Laugh out loud funny and ridiculous; this is a fun read and a promising start to a series. I can't wait to continue with the rest of the series.


Definitely in my top three for 2018. This book was a slam dunk! As a teenager I went through an obsession with Greek and Roman mythology, watched Troy CONSTANTLY, and read the Odyssey multiple times. But as I aged, I guess my love and passion for mythology faded. Circe brought all that back and then some with beautiful writing that weaves together forgotten mythologies and gods and prophecies. Circe tells the story of an often overlooked goddess and spins it into one of the most compelling, feminist epics out there. To be quite frank, I had forgotten Cicre, daughter of Helios. For most, Circe's most memorable tale is how she turned Odysseus' men into pigs; she was famed for her witchcraft. Ironically, that tale is just a small footnote in her immortal life, not even one of the most astonishing things she did. This book pieces together her entire mythology and turns it into one of the most enjoyable adventure stories I've read in forever. A must read!!

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

In Conclusion, Don't Worry About It

This was a perfectly adequate, mildly encouraging and uplifting book. It's Lauren Graham's commencement speech with random little drawings (I hope a kid drew them!). Personally I've listened to (and read) better more empowering commencement speeches, but this one wasn't bad (just not great). She uses her acting career (specifically her theater carer) to illustrate the highs and lows of life. The only people who will read this are fans of the actresses work, which is ok. I don't see this being a big graduation gift, but I could be wrong. Again, a little meh, if you want to read; get it from your local library.

My Year of Rest and Relaxation

This book was.... odd? But in a totally readable way. My Year of Rest and Relaxation is exactly what the title promises, a woman in her late twenties decides to medicate herself into hibernation for a year. Her parents are dead, she only has one "friend," she's quit her job, and she just can't stomach going about the drudgery of the every day. She's happiest while sleeping and she's willing to take an insane cocktail of prescribed drugs to chase that feeling of rest and relaxation. Skinny, pretty, and privileged; she knows she has it easy, but she wants a new life and she wants to sleep her way into the next chapter. At first I wondered how on earth an entire book could be written about drug induced quest for sleep; but rest assured, I couldn't put this book down. Literally. I started it at 8 this morning and am already done. Moshfegh is a writer to watch, I loved this even more than I loved her collection of short stories I read last year.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Children of Blood and Bone

Worth. The. Hype! I haven't read a teen fantasy series this inventive and new for a while, let alone one with a DIVERSE cast of teen characters. Children of Blood and Bone combines adventure, magic, romance, black culture, and friendship to create a unique, impossible to put down book. The page count was a little imposing, but once I started reading it didn't matter anymore; I was flying through it! Zelie, a young girl with a mischievous streak finds herself in a precarious situation. When her mother and all the maji were slaughtered over a decade ago; magic died with them, but now Zelie has a chance to restore magic to their country. The oppressed could finally rise and restore order to the chaos! Aided by the princess and Zelie's brother, they must traverse the countryside to find three magic relics and return them to a sacred island before the solstice or all hope is lost. Hot on their tails are the princesses brother, the king, and the entire Orisha army. Then the book ends with a cliffhanger! I like NEED TO KNOW MORE! So good!

Monday, April 9, 2018

Faux Paw

I needed an audiobook filler and I thought a nice cozy mystery with cats would be a nice change. I was mistaken. Maybe cozy mysteries just aren't my thing, maybe it was just this book, or maybe it was "magical cats" assisting with another murder in a small quaint little town. Whatever it was, this was not a book I was into. Even though it was the 7th in the series, it read fine as a stand alone, it was pretty straightforward; no crazy plot twists, predictable characters, non-stop eating and describing food, everything was kitschy and quirky. It was too much. Too much ugh. A traveling museum exhibit is coming to the library. The lady in charge of arranging the exhibit is found murdered in the library and a valuable art piece is stolen. Oh no! The librarian and resident cat lady is determined to find the killer so the library can re-open. She and her boyfriend (who is also conveniently a detective) bounce scenarios off each other until the case is solved.... They get a couple of clues from the librarian's magical cats along the way (one can turn invisible and the other can walk through walls.... totally normal). Hard pass.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Heart Berries

This was one of the most brutal, heartfelt, unabashed, memoirs I've ever read. Mailhot rips out her heart for the reader to see and holds nothing back. From her insecurities about being a mother to abuse she had buried as a child to her complicated relationships to growing up native; she bares her entire soul. She manages to convey these truths about her life in the most succinct, powerful way. Not one word is wasted in this memoir. While listening to this I was struck by the beauty of her prose.

“I think self-esteem is a white invention to further separate one person from another. It asks people to assess their values and implies people have worth. It seems like identity capitalism.”

“I felt breathless, like every question was a step up a stairway.”

I listened to this short memoir, but now I want to read it; I want my eyes to eat up her words. Her prose is transcendent. Mailhot, hasn't exactly had the easiest of lives, but she is able to convey the beauty in her struggles and challenges. What a writer. I cannot wait to read more from her. I am ready for the Indigenous Renaissance.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Get on Top

I was immediately drawn in by this clever cover, but that's about where my love for this book ended. It wasn't bad per se, but I was hoping it would have a lot more new information. This book is honestly geared at high school girls who no little to nothing about sexuality and their bodies. There wasn't anything new or groundbreaking in this book other than questioning what ingredients are in tampons. I think this would be a great read for young adults or those who skipped over health class, other than that it's all common knowledge. It talks about the difference between birth controls, sexually transmitted diseases, periods, sex, masturbation, and anatomy. Underwhelming.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Gun Love

First off, this cover is amazing, how could you pass up a book that looks this good? Secondly, the concept was pretty unique and made the book impossible to put down. Pearl and her momma have lived in an old mercury since she was born. Her mother thought they would only be there a few months, but fourteen years later they are still living in the same car. Pearl and her momma are two peas in a pod but when Eli moves into the trailer park she knows there is going to be trouble. Her momma is too nice and always trying to fix the strays. Nothing will ever be the same again. Peppered throughout the story are guns, they're almost a secondary character. From the random bulllethole in their car to the drunks shooting at the gators, to the empty casings Pearl finds in the dump, to the gun buyback program that the local pastor is organizing; guns are an integral part of Pearl's childhood. Gun Love is a tale of southern white trash, hope, guns, and the American dream. A great book!