Monday, July 29, 2019

The Adventure Zone

I thought this would be dumb and not able to live up to the hype... but it was pretty funny and enjoyable. Not just for RPG fans, The Adventure Zone is zany, off the wall, ingenious, and inventive at every turn. A trio of adventures embark on their quest with the aid of their dungeon master. It's fantasy, friendship, foibles, and more. Great fun and I genuinely can't wait to read the next one. Definitely worth the hype!

Gods of Jade and Shadow

Fun ,unique, and impossible to put down! Casiopea is tired of being treated like dirt by her family. Ever since her father died and she and her mother and to go back to her grandfather's house in southern Mexico; all she does is clean and be at their beck and call, she's no better than Cinderella. All Casiopea wants to do is experience the world, listen to jazz, dance, and drive around in an automobile. The whole world is turning and changing without her. All that changes though when she accidentally releases a Mayan god from a locked chest. Suddenly she's on an adventure and she has no idea where she will end up next. Urban legends are suddenly appearing before her very eyes and even though she's now bound to this devilishly handsome god of death, she's not that scared. What could be worse than scrubbing floors? Steeped with Mayan lore, this fun adventure features the most spirited girl, someone readers will instantly fall for. A great read!


In one word, fascinating. This biography delves into the world's most "wicked woman"and arguably the least understood woman. What little survives of her was written by men, Romans who would eventually annex Egypt and misremember, misattribute, and slander Cleopatra. What people remember about this bad-ass queen, is not her wit, fierceness, and shrewd leadership; rather they remember her as a beautiful seductress who managed to snag two of the most powerful men in the world. Stacy Schiff delves deep to set the record straight in this amazing (admittedly a little dense at times) biography. I always thought Cleopatra was cool (what little I knew about her), but after reading this I realized that she is the feminist boss babe I needed in my life right now. In her lifetime she sat a table of leaders, all men - and reigned supreme.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

The Princess Saves Herself in This One

I started with her second collection first (which I loved!), but hell this book is just as good! Amanda Lovelace writes powerful poetry that women will instantly relate to. Even though this collection primarily deals with dark themes (depression, abuse, rape, suicide, and more), it ultimately ends hopeful. Each poem is about how the world and people can (and will) let you down, but then exalts the ways in which we can build ourselves back up and be our own heroes. Proud, feminist, and empowering; this poetry collection is great for women of all ages. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Whispers of the Biafran Skeleton

Haunting and dripping with righteous indignation; Ngozi Olivia Osuoha's prose will chill you to the bones. This collection brings to life the horror, senseless slaughter, mass rape, and murder of more than two million when Nigerian forces attacked Biafra. A sadly overlooked and little known atrocity, the Biafran independence and subsequent Civil War was bloody and tragedy and most of the world didn't blink an eye. The poems do a masterful job of raising a voice to the violence, the hope, and the suffering of millions. Not for the faint of heart, yet crucial reading. This angry, horrific collection will stir your heart and steel your resolve.

In the Donald's Time

Irreverent, dark, humorous, and scathing; this poetry collection is breath of fresh air in our current shitty political climate. Jonel Abellanosa does a superb job of capturing the myriad of emotions many Americans are dealing with in beautiful, pragmatic, and endearing prose. There is very nearly a poem for every mood, and trust me with the Trumpster we suffer from a myriad of emotions. This timely collection attempts to make sense of the mess.  Unflinching, brutally honest, mesmerizing, and beautiful; this collection of poetry won't leave your head or your heart.

Riding Bareback Backwards

Prose that sticks in your mind for it's vivid imagery and truth, this collection will stick with you long after you've closed the book. Christina Quinns's collection of poetry is pure, unadulterated, and beautiful. From whimsical to remorseful to hopeful, the meandering prose takes you on a journey. My personal favorite poem was about three strawberries, it was unnamed and unusually resonant from me; I had to read it twice. A great collect and a fantastic contemporary poet that I look forward to reading more of.

Hammer of God

Each line is suffused with beauty and power and as a result Aria Ligi's poetry just begs to be read aloud. Her verse dances on the page and in the mind and while her subject may change, her eloquence does not. From beauty, desire, violence, anger, and hope; this collection has something to fulfill any reader's desire. Hammer of God is broken into sections in order to tell a story or theme. Classical themes, religion, modern day problems, and more are lovingly and scathingly illustrated in flowering language and prose. A powerful collection from a contemporary poet that will leave readers wanting more.

The Death of Disco

Quick, sweet, poignant, and powerful; a masterful collection contained in a tiny volume. Alicia's collection of poetry will stick with readers long after devouring this chapbook. Ranging from a line or two to a full page; this collection is irreverent, sassy, fun, and packs a punch. What Young can do with a few words will leave you jealous and eager to read more. From drugs to Hugh Hefner to typewriters and death; there is truly something for everyone. Definitely a collection you'll keep coming back to and won't soon forget.

Lock Every Door

Right off the bat I knew this was going to be a trippy book; it was dedicated to Ira Levin (Rosemary's Baby) which is also set in an old Gothic apartment building in the city. Jules has just agreed to be an apartment sitter for one of the oldest and prestigious apartment buildings in the world. As a child she adored the building since it was the setting of her favorite book and she can't believe she was lucky enough to land such a cushiony job. She's going to get paid $12K for staying in the most luxurious apartment looking over central park. And it's only a 3 month commitment! What could wrong?! For starters there seem to be an awful lot of rules. She can't have guests over, she can't talk to or "bother" the residents (many of whom are mega rich celebrities), she can't stay the night anywhere else and she can't post any pictures of the place online. Jules soon discovers that there are three other apartment sitters in the building and just when they start to bond, one of them goes missing. Even though no one is convinced that anything is wrong, Jules feels in her gut that something happened. On top of that some very mysterious thing happening around the building starts to put her on edge. It's a slow build thriller that will keep you guessing and when you get to the end and are convinced you finally figured it out...  you'll realize just how wrong you were. Creepy and fun, definitely for fans of Rosemary's Baby. 

The Graveyard Book

Honestly, I can't imagine "reading" this when Neil Gaiman such does a brilliant job "narrating" it. It was freaking brilliant. His accent, the care to differentiate his character's voice, and his cadence, made this a true treat to listen to. The Graveyard Book opens with a gruesome family murder and a small baby boy who miraculously escapes to a graveyard. When the killer tracks the baby to the neighboring graveyard the residents (aka ghosts) band together to protect the baby boy and vow to raise him in the safety of the graveyard. Unsure of what his name is they decide to call him Nobody, or Bod for short. Bod has an unusual childhood, never being allowed to leave the gates of the cemetery his lessons include opening and closing ghoul gates, disappearing, and haunting. As he gets older though he longs to be around other breathing humans. A perfect and not too scary book for middle grade readers that is equal parts funny and spooky. Very endearing :)

Fables: Super Team

This installment was a "tiny" bit of a let down. Mr. Dark gets dealt with for the final time (we hope) we see the true side of Mrs. Pratt (I didn't love the story-line about fat women being ugly on the outside AND on the inside), and the fables (specifically Pinocchio have waay too much fun trying to pick out their super hero costumes to battle Mr. Dark. It wasn't as strong as some of the past volumes, but it did move the story forward and it was enjoyable, it just wasn't quite as up to snuff as some of the others have been. Never fear, I still plan on reading the rest of the series!

Fables: Rose Red

No complaints here - this series is as reliable as they come; I have yet to be let down by a volume and this is no exception. Not only does the plot get better, but we get a sweet back story on Rose Red and Snow White as well as lots of bonus content at the end. Mr. Dark is still menacing the fables and they soon have to make a hasty retreat from the Farm to the Haven. At least Rose Red got out of bed and finally made an effort to lead her people to safety, she's been moping for far too long since Blue's untimely death!

Monday, July 22, 2019

After the Flood

I thought I was over the doom and gloom of dystopian novels, but I thought wrong. This inventive new take on a world that has flooded had me riveted from the get go. A young mother and her daughter must survive in a world nearly completely flooded. Armed with only their small boat and fishing prowess, they must navigate a society completely torn apart by flooding. Unwillingly to trust anyone except for her daughter she decides that she must track down her first born who was stolen from her by her husband years ago. For once she has a lead and she will stop at nothing to get her back after living with a hopeless dread for years. Filled with pirates, badass women, survival, adventure, and romance; I ADORED this novel and look forward to more from this author! Super fast paced and full of intrigue!

The Orphan Master's Son

A book so cunningly complex and deceptively simple that it almost defies explanation. Set in the nearly unimaginable country of North Korea, Adam Johnson creates some of the richest and most compelling characters and weaves them together in a tale of deceit, pain, wonder, intrigue, and hope. Jun Do, a young man, raised in miserable conditions in an orphanage, grows up to face even more miserable conditions as a tunnel fighter. Somehow gaining notice of his superiors; he gets selected for some special missions that will turn his entire life upside down and shape his destiny. Soon he is kidnapping with abandon, surviving "shark attacks," falling in love, and discovering what life could be like outside of North Korea. A unique literary masterpiece that will give readers pause and won't soon be forgotten.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

For fans of "The Rosie Project," this debut book about a twenty nine year old woman content to just "exist" will charm many readers. Eleanor Oliphant has a routine; she works, does the crossword puzzle at lunch, talks to her mother on Wednesday, goes to the store on Friday and drinks vodka all weekend by herself. There is no variation, there is no fun, there is no adventure. That is until she meets a bumbling young man in the IT department, Raymond. First he fixes her computer and then he proceeds to turn her life upside down. From the tiniest things; going for lunch, helping out an elderly man, actually talking to her, these things shake up her routine enough and start a domino effect to actually get Eleanor to take a good hard look at her life and find some meaning in it. Her standoffish attitude, weirdness, and inability to have a meaningful relationship with anyone make it hard for people to approach her, but Raymond seems to be doing a pretty good job. Cute, but at times dark and real. Not one I would personally re-read, but still good nonetheless.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill

A super cute book that as a bibliophile I appreciated. Was it great literature? No. Was it something I'll read again? No. Was it super fun? Hell yes. Nina Hill likes things nice and orderly. She lives by her planner; any fun that happens is scheduled. Nina works at a local LA bookstore, is involved in multiple book clubs, and kicks ass at trivia with her friends. She even sorts her shelves by Book of the Month, and signed editions - same girl! I felt Nina on a spiritual level; from the way she was organized, valued reading, and got stressed and overwhelmed easily if there was too much on her plate or surprises were thrown her way. And lo and behold, a lot happens to Nina in a short amount of time; she's introduced to a whole new part of her family that she didn't know existed and she starts to develop feelings for one of her rival trivia team members. She's going to have to come out of her shell, (at least a little bit) to deal with the world, and who knows, maybe she'll even like what she finds.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Waiting for Tom Hanks

This was a cute romance but even as it was poking fun of the "outrageousness" of romcoms, it turned out to be just as unbelievable. Annie Cassidy has one religion, Nora Ephron - she worships at the alter of her and the other romantic comedy greats. Annie wishes she starred in her own romcom - then maybe she could meet a guy, but she's in Columbus, Ohio; not exactly a mecca for excitement. That is until a movie starts getting filmed in er neighborhood and she finagles her way onto set as an assistant thanks to her uncle's connections. Drew Danforth, Hollywood star and prankster, is starring in the movie and Annie is instantly attracted to him and he maybe seems to not hate here? Maybe? This could be the beginning of her own movie and romance, but of course nothing is ever easy. Cheesy, fun, witty, and definitely over the top - this light read will put you in a better mood.

The Enchanted Hour

This book made me want kids. RIGHT NOW. It set my clock ticking, so to speak. Which may sound weird, but I dare you to read this and decide that you don't love reading aloud to children and that you don't want to nightly bedtime ritual. The Enchanted Hour breaks down the "magical" benefits of reading aloud and the effect it has on children's growth and family bonds. Everyone knows that reading to your kid is good, but after reading this book, you'll realize JUST how good it is and you'll never skip another bedtime story. It's better than any multivitamin, educational kids show, or preschool. Reading aloud can set your child up for a brighter future than you ever imagined - they will be leaps and bounds ahead of their peers and that isn't just in kindergarten; research shows that the reading gap can actually be seen in HIGH SCHOOL, kids that are read to and read to frequently engage more of their brains, are exposed to more words, concepts, and comprehension. Two passages in the book that really stuck out to me:
 - "A story is never wholly yours again, once a movie has colonized your mind's eye." - on reading the books BEFORE seeing the movie
 - "Owning something and taking possession of it are two different things, of course, A child may have as much right to Beowolf as the scholar who devotes his life to the study of Old English. Yet unless the child meets the hero Beowolf and the monster Grendel, he cannot be said to have taken possession of the property that's his. Let that child's mother read Beowolf in translation at bedtime (if she dares - it's pretty gory), and the child's custody is complete. The characters and scenes and language of the book will become part of his internal landscape. The book's mystical qualities will add sublimity to his experience of life."
A wonderful book. One that I want to own and give out to new mothers.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Dissenter on the Bench

Not 100% linear and not exactly groundbreaking; but still a wonderful introduction to Ruth Bader Ginsburg's life and work. Not only does it highlight RBG's work as a supreme court judge, but it also paints a broad picture of all the landmark cases that she worked on as a lawyer for the ACLU , as a law professor, and as US Court of Appeals judge. This book's primary audience will be tweens and teens, but could also get reluctant adult readers a good overview. Filled with pictures, court cases, and law terms; this book could really get a kid jazzed about how crucial the law can be. Peppered throughout the book is a bit about RBG's personal life; her kids, wonderful husband, and the unconventional family unit they had as a young family. A good intro on the wonderful things that Ginsburg has accomplished for the betterment of this country that will get any reader pumped up to read more.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Fix Her Up

Super cute, steamy, rom-com.  It's fun, predictable, and very passionate; perfect for a beach read and would make a great rated R Hallmark movie. Georgie has had the hugest crush on Travis Ford since she was a little girl. He was her older brother's best friend and grew up to be an MLB pro, she hasn't seen him in years but now that's back in town with his tail between his legs after being dumped from the league; all that is about to change. She's tired of him moping about so she starts to interject herself into his life, whatever it takes to get him back on track to being the man that he used to be. Not the man-whore bit, but the well respected ball player bit. Unexpectedly, Travis actually starts to develop feelings for Georgie, it doesn't help that she grew up gorgeous; but he knows that there is a line you can't cross and there is no way that someone with his reputation should date his best friend's younger sister (she's a birthday party clown for christ's sake AND a virgin!). They're about to cross a line, but neither of them know just where it will take them. Laugh out loud funny, ridiculous, and just plain fun.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

The Hunt for Red October

I don't remember watching the movie so the plot was brand new to me. That being said, it was a very technical book. I learned more about submarines and sonar then I ever wanted to know. I would have liked the book better had there been more action, less explaining, but I get that it was there to make the story seem more credible. Some Soviet captains decide they want to defect to America so they take their submarine and head towards the US. What happens next is a deadly game of cat and mouse and poor CIA agent, Jack Ryan gets dragged into the thick of it. An entire fleet of Soviet warships and submarines chase after The Red October and America and England work together to come up with a plan to meet this sub before it gets blown out of the water. It was an alright book, but I have a hunch that I would enjoy the movie even better. I love me some Harrison Ford.


Heavy doesn't even begin to describe this book. There is a trigger warning at the start of this book and that ain't no joke! I'm not an addict (recovering or otherwise) but this book made me anxious as sin. I know an addict or two and this was so spot on to their behavior and justifications. Heroine follows Mickey Catalan, a high school softball star, as she tries to recover from a life changing injury that threatens to take away the one thing she really cares about, sports. She and her best friend were in a horrific car accident that popped Mickey's leg out of its socket, and the therapy and emotional toll its taking on her, is crippling. She soon starts relying on the Oxy she's prescribed to take the pain away so she can focus on physical therapy. Her only goal is getting healed before spring training so she can start on the varsity team her senior year. But she's not an addict, she's using a prescription from her doctor for the pain. She's not like those losers that overdose and live on the streets. The real question is, what will happen when she runs out of her pills? How badly does she need them to "recover?" A haunting story that shows just how easy it is for ANYONE to get addicted to opiates. It's a slippery slope fraught with good intentions, the end result is just so horrifying. A powerful book that will stay with the reader long after finishing. 

Monday, July 8, 2019

You've Been Volunteered

I loved the shit out of Class Mom so I knew I was in for a treat with the follow up, You've Been Volunteered. Much in the same vein as the first novel, this hilarious book follows one stressed, hilarious, and over the top mother as she takes over being class mom for her son's third grade class. Jen Dixon is irreverent, zany, and over the top in everything that she does. From parenting to sending out class emails, there is something to be said for her pizzazz. When Jen gets volunteered for yet ANOTHER school activity, the safety patrol, it makes her want to vomit. More duties? Can't she just drink wine and take spin class? Plus her husband wants her to start cutting corners and saving money, with coupons and generic brands, gross. Laugh out loud funny, Jen Dixon is the mom's mom, and is the parent everyone secretly wants to be. Great fun!

This Time Will Be Different

Like most teenagers, CJ doesn't know what her goals or ambitions are. The most at home she's ever felt is in the family flower shop where she works with her aunt. When she's using her flower magic to create bouquets, boutonnieres, lockets, and charms she feels like she's spreading a little bit of happiness. When her mother announces that she's planning on selling the shop to the "enemy," the McAllisters, she feels as if the only thing she's ever cared about is going out the window. The McAllisters bought the business from her family for pennies on the dollar when the government forced Japanese Americans to go to internment camps during WWII. It took decades before the Katsuyamas were able to buy it back.... for MUCH more than the McAllisters had bought it for. CJ vows to help save the shop along with her friends, but that too proves to be challenging. Her best friend is falling for a horrible hypocritical lesbian, her co-worker Owen may be forming a crush on her, and her classmates don't all understand why the McAllisters are the "bad guys." CJ has to find out what she truly cares for and fight for it. A good young adult book that covers a lot of hot topics.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Patron Saints of Nothing

Powerful and poignant. This young adult book chronicles one American Filipino teen who travels back to the island for the first time in a decade when he finds out his cousin and childhood friend had been killed. Jay has to confront the fact that while he has been living in a bit of a bubble in his middle class white suburban neighborhood and hasn't really bothered to keep up with his relatives, specifically Jun, who he used to write to frequently. Jay HAS to know what really happened to his beloved cousin Jun, or the grief may eat him alive. Everyone is saying he was shot because of drugs, but Jay can't wrap his head around that, that is the Jun he grew up with. Even though they hadn't talked in years, the island is calling to him to honor his cousin's memory by at least trying to put the pieces together. A wonderful story of identity, family, poverty, desperation, and hope. It's gripping and wonderful, the search for the truth doesn't always take us where we expect it to. A must read.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Ordinary Girls

An adorable, quirky young adult book perfect for every angsty teen (or adult) that read Jane Austen, Little Women, and Jane Eyre on the reg. Two sisters could not be more different; Ginny, the older, smarter, more frazzled sister is forever getting on Patience's (aka Plum) nerves. Patience has forever lived in the shadow of her older sister's intelligence and there are times when she can't wait for her sister to go off to college in a year (if the family can afford it). They live in a gorgeous, old, crumbling down Victorian home, that Patience wishes she could never leave (stupid school). It's her, Ginny, her exuberant and artistic mother, a feisty cat, two rowdy dogs, and their "almost doctor of music" renter who lives above the carriage house. Little does Patience realize how much her fifteenth year is about to change; from boys, to finance woes, to English reading assignments; this will be a year that Plum will never forget. Funny and unusual in the most awesome of ways.

Beautiful Blur

Demons can follow you, even when you think you've finally managed to evade them for good. Crystal thought the past was finally in her rear view mirror, especially when she meets the man of her dreams. Paul is everything she never knew she needed; he's gentle and kind, endlessly patient and understanding, and sexy to boot. Crystal can't believe that someone so wonderful would want her just as bad as she wants him. Their fairy tale romance and relationship is perfect.. at first - but soon pieces of Crystal's life that she had kept buried inside start to emerge. Awful flashbacks start to plague her, and she doesn't know how to deal with them. Her perfect relationship starts to suffer, despite everything Paul tries to do to keep her afloat. What will it take Crystal to confront the demons of her past and realize that her life is wonderful despite her emotional baggage and trauma? Filled with romance, passion, intrigue, and traumatic abuse. This novella of redemption and love is sure to delight readers and is a quick read with some steamy scenes that will be sure to delight. It ends on a cliffhanger so be sure to check out the rest of the novellas in this series!

American Indian Stories

This was the first time I had read anything by the famed indigenous author, Zitkala-Sa. This book contained a collection of her biographical snapshots and stories of youth, folk tales, essays, and poetry. They are eloquent, profound, and deeply moving. She had raw power with her words and when you read this book, the imagery it conveys about growing up at the turn of the century on a reservation and what it means to be indigenous is profound. Essential reading for Native American scholars.

The Flatshare

This book was precious!! I absolutely ADORED the quirky, awkward, crafty, tall, adorable protagonist, she was so relatable to be. She could have been me (in my mind) or my best friend. Tiffy just had her heart ripped out of her chest and she needs a new place to live immediately. Shes an editor at a small arts and crafts publishing house so she doesn't exactly have a large salary to find something in London. In desperation she finally decides to answer an ad for a flatshare. At first, she's skeptical, she's never even met the man she's living with due to his opposite schedule, maybe he's a psychopath! But soon as they get to know each other through: coffee cups left out, loads of laundry hanging up to dry, leftovers, and post it notes. The flatshare turns out to be the best thing that could have happened to either of them. Leon is a third shift hospice nurse who devotes all his free time trying to get his brother out of prison for a crime he didn't commit, he barely has time for his girlfriend, let alone a weird flatmate, but soon coming home to Tiffy's notes and stress induced baking is the best part of his day. How long can they go on living together without meeting? Can you find your soulmate without ever laying eyes on them? Charming and wonderful. I adored this book!