Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Christmas in Evergreen

I held off on watching the Hallmark movie version until I finished listening to this and I must say; this is certainly the kind story that Hallmark would showcase. It's cheesy, sappy, dripping with holiday cheer, and so PG that you could read this to a child. Evergreen is the kind of town you don't believe is real until you see it. Steeped with holiday traditions and small town charm; everyone knows and loves each other and the Christmas Festival is the highlight of every year. Allie runs a successful vet practice but she has decided to move out to DC to try her hand in the city and be with her ex boyfriend. Ryan is trying to have the best Christmas possible for his eight year old daughter since his wife has passed. He thinks a holiday cruise will solve their problems but on the way to the airport they stumble across Evergreen and his daughter is enchanted. Once they cross paths with Allie (who is also headed to the airport) all bets are off. Will this be a Christmas miracle or a Christmas nightmare. Cheesy, so predictable, and good fun. This has Hallmark stamped all over it!

Snow, Glass, Apples

A really dark, twisted, and satisfying twist on the old Snow White tale told in gorgeous graphic novel illustrations and written by the insanely talented Neil Gaiman. It honestly sells itself. I can't get over how beautiful it was, very art deco and intricate; the illustrations jump right off the page. Told from the "evil" Queen's perspective, this reversal of storytelling leads to some very surprising twists and finds readers definitely siding with the Queen. I will say there is a lot of nudity and sexual content so this is for mature teens and up; I personally didn't mind it, but I can see a parent's head exploding if they caught their 6th grader reading it. I hope Neil Gaiman does more fairy tale spin offs like this one; I really really liked it!

The Hollywood Book Club

A nice coffee table book filled with photographs of old glamorous Hollywood celebrities reading. Most are candid publicity shots, some are film stills, and others are promotional movie photos. Marilyn Monroe, Gregory Peck, Sammie Davis Jr, Bette Davis, and Orson Welles are just a few of the dozens and dozens included. Alongside each picture is a brief description of the celebrity, information about the book they're reading (if it's available), and any information about the set or the home they're reading at. There are some typos and I wish the book was a bigger size (for true coffee table potential), but overall I thought it was a neat literary/cinematic crossover and something fun to flip through or show off.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Lab Girl

Wow! I'm not a big science buff, but I ADORED this book. 75% memoir and 25% scientific; this unconventional book will win over everyone, not just scientists. Hope Jahren chronicles her journey in the science lab starting with her father while she was a child her first "adult" forays in college, the meeting of her life long lab partner/best friend/ soul mate Bill, creating her first lab, her first teaching gig, meeting her husband, and the birth of her child. Hope is honest about her mental illness, the struggles of finding enough money to keep her lab open and Bill employed, the ups and downs of teaching, and the sweet unadulterated joy of research. Fascinating from start to finish. I never thought I would like something like this but it made me appreciate scientific research that much more. Her dry humor, wit, and candor really help make up for all the scientific things you may not know. Also, now I have to plant a tree. Or two.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Look Both Ways

Seriously, Jason Reynolds can do no wrong. Every book is a freaking masterpiece. Ten blocks. Ten stories. Ten more reasons to fall in love with Jason Reynolds. School may end when the bell rings, but that's when these stories start. Kids talking about boogers, trying to steal change, skateboard home, write the best jokes, plan escape routes, face their fears, and stand up to bullies. Each story is different, but little pieces from one story may end up in another, and another, and another and together they tell a bigger story; the story of how a group of students, a few blocks in the city, and the vivacity of youth can weave together the brightest community. Loved it!

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

The Babysitter's Coven

First off, I wish I had been as cool as these characters when I was in high school. Their humor, style, and wit is something I wish I had been blessed with. Esme and Janice run their very own Babysitter's Club, that's right, just like in the books. They have a burner phone and everything. The only problem is Janice is pretty much over it and Esme might be all on her own, babysitting just isn't as cool in high school anymore. Enter the new girl, Cassandra. She finds out about their little club and begs to join claiming tons of "experience." After she freaks out over a two year old's poop, it's clear to everyone that Cassandra isn't quite cut out for babysitting, but she did have an ulterior motive. She finds a note from her mother (long dead) telling her to find the babysitters, and she and Esme might have something "magical" in common. Cheesy, totally implausible and fun. It's like Buffy meets Sabrina and it's a ton of fun. I look forward to the sequel!

The Burger Chef Murders in Indiana

I wasn't alive when the Burger Chef murders occurred, but over the years I've heard the murders come up in conversation and having grown up by Chicago; I wasn't all that familiar with what actually happened. Julie Young does an excellent job of setting the scene and not attempting to "solve" the crime four decades later; she's not trying to do a disservice to the police and authorities who toiled over the case, she's merely bringing it to life and trying to make the most comprehensive outline of what is actually known about the gruesome murders. Four young adults and teenagers were abducted from their work and later found murdered. No one has ever been tried or convicted for their deaths. It's dark and fascinating and I'm glad I actually know about this infamous Hoosier quadruple homicide. As a Franklin resident who works in New Whiteland; it was also fascinating to learn about all the Johnson County connections that I didn't know existed in this case. A must read for true crime fans!

The Bookshop on the Corner

Sweet and fluffy; this light read is perfect for bibliophiles. When an English librarian finds herself without a job she decides to be bold for once in her life and do something rash; open a bookstore. She obviously can't afford to rent property but she finds this perfect old van up in Scotland that might be perfect for a mobile bookshop. Throwing caution to the wind she buys the van, moves to Scotland, and starts to fall for a sexy Latvian train conductor. Her dream is coming true! Only, Nina is discovering that there are a lot of road blocks and detours and nothing in life is easy, it's about finding the courage for what you believe in. Romantic and cute, a great beach read!

The Institute

Man I could not put this book down! If you're looking for straight up Stephen King horror, it won't be found in this book. However if you're looking for complex characters, stomach turning scenarios, good vs. evil, and some bad ass kids; then this is the book for you. Alternating between Tim, a "retired cop" who is just floating through life and ends up in a dead end town working as a night knocker and Luke, a kid with IQ off the charts, who has been kidnapped and taken to The Institute. The Institute won't be found on any map, and no one has heard of it; but they specialize in kidnapping children who have telekinesis and telepathy and experimenting on them and using them for "nefarious" reasons. Luke and Tim have very different stories, but they may just find themselves crossing paths. Hard to put down, and expertly plotted; a unique story and I loved the children's perspectives and voice. Another Stephen King spectacular!

Saturday, October 19, 2019

The Mermaid's Voice Returns in This One

Overall I liked this poetry collection. It's empowering, emotional, and heavy. Like the previous two collections it deals with abuse, trauma, assault, and suicide. It's pretty heavy; but despite that, still uplifting and hopeful. Confronting the hard truths and the ugly side of our lives, makes it easier to move on to acceptance and healing. Some poems were more powerful than others and resonated, but I didn't feel that about every poem in the collection. If you've read the first two, definitely wrap it up with this one.

The Testaments

I am always SUPER SKEPTICAL when authors decide to publish a sequel that has been a standalone for decades. I didn't go in to this with high hopes because in my mind The Handmaid's Tale was perfectly amazing as a standalone and I didn't want Atwood to tarnish the original. Boy was I wrong. Atwood more than delivered. The Testaments isn't a sequel per se, but it involves Gilead and a few of the hated Aunts as well as a few other recognizable characters. It picks up a couple years after The Handmaid's Tale but follows three different threads. Aunt Lydia, Nicole, and Agnes; an aunt, a teenager living in Canada, and a young Gilead school girl. By the end of the stories those three characters will be so entangled and will change each others lives forever. Truly as magical as the first one and really rounds out the terrifying world of Gilead! Pleasantly surprised, one I would read again!

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Stumptown: Volume Four

This is really a 3.5, but I'm rounding up to a 4. So far this has been the weakest for me because it seemed the least "plausible." Coffee? Barista mafia? Come on now. I can suspend belief for a lot but that is crossing a line. Dex is hired to ferry some VERY expensive coffee from the plane to her client's house. She keeps getting harassed by coffee snobs who want to bribe her (or beat her) to get some of the coffee beans for themselves. It's getting out of hand and Dex is getting pissed. To make matters worse her freeloading sister, Fuji, has dropped in unannounced and plans on crashing for as long as she can. Tensions run high at home and work isn't making anything better. Far fetched, but still enjoyable.

Stumptown: Volume Three

I can't tell if they brought in a new artist on this one, but there seems to be some subtle changes in some of the characters. It's not bad, it was just my first observation. The first third of the book I was a little underwhelmed. Soccer? Ugh. But by the halfway point I was intrigued and per usual I couldn't put it down. One of Dex's good friends is found beaten nearly to death right outside the stadium where they just watched a soccer game together. He's in a coma and Dex is pissed. This isn't just a case, this is personal! At first she thinks that maybe the opposing team did it, is hooliganism going to catch on in the states? But then she starts to sniff out something in else, something even fishier. Loved it!

A Distance Too Grand

I love the theme of this series "American Wonders Collection," how great is that?!? The next historical romance in the series will take place in Yellowstone! This inspirational series sells itself; who doesn't love romance, let alone in these iconic American places!

"A Distance Too Grand" follows twenty six year old photographer, Meg Pero, as she leaves the east coast to try her hand at being a photographer on an expedition to the Grand Canyon. Her father has died so she is hoping they will honor his contract and let her take his place. She literally has no where else to go and she needs to make a name for herself. As you can imagine, it's 1871 and the army isn't exactly keen to take a woman along on a topographical expedition, but Meg has an in! The leader of the expedition is none other than her old beau and she convinces him to let her come with; after all the cook is female, she won't be alone. They embark on an adventure with beautiful scenery, danger lurking around the corner, and a great sense of adventure. If Meg and Ben play their cards right, who knows, they may find themselves falling back in love with each other. This trip has them realizing that they shouldn't have given up on each other so easily the first time. Romantic, wholesome, and unique. A great romantic adventure that inspirational readers will eat up! I can't wait for the next in the series!

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

The House We Grew Up In

Jewell, Lisa. The House We Grew Up In. 11 CDs. unabridged. 13 hrs 26 min. 2019. Dreamscape Media. ISBN 9781974979806. 

On the outside they were perfect. The Birds were a "perfect" tight knit family, had a "perfect home", and were a "perfect" nightmare. Four siblings: serious Meg, whimsical Beth, and adorable twins Rory and Rhys find themselves flung apart after a tragedy drives a wedge into their family one unsuspecting Easter afternoon. The House We Grew Up In is weaved together through multiple timelines and a series of emails from their mother that lead up to yet another unbearable family tragedy, the death of their mother, Lorelei. Their beautiful, complicated, frustrating mother has died and now it's up to her children to clean up her mess. Literally speaking, the mess of their childhood home. Lorelei was a hoarder and her inability to let things go only intensified after that Easter Sunday tragedy. Now the children must dig deep into the mess, finding family secrets that have been buried for far too long. Brilliantly narrated by Karina Fernandez who breathes life into the flawed, tragic, and clever siblings; shining especially bright as their mother Lorelei. Deeply compelling, bold, and impossible to put down; this book will make readers fell better about their own family lives but still be thankful to have met the Birds. Another amazing book of family tragedy and triumph from bestselling author, Lisa Jewell.  - Erin Cataldi, Johnson Co. Public Library, Franklin, IN

Stumptown: Volume 2

Not as hard hitting or groundbreaking as volume one; but still fun, fast paced, and gritty. I'm really enjoying this series! Dex is approached by a rockstar whose beloved baby has gone missing. The baby in question is her guitar and she insists that the police not be involved. That proves difficult though because soon the DEA is breathing down her neck and there are some nasty skinheads on her back. A simple recovery case proves to be a lot more challenging than Dex thought. Gorgeously illustrated with some neat panels. A lot of fun and I can't wait for volume three!

Monday, October 14, 2019

Doomsday Clock

This is really a 4.5 not quite a 5, but I am super excited to see how this Watchmen spin-off turns out. This volume sets the scene and introduces a lot of new characters and their backstories. There are a few pretty big surprises (I won't ruin them for you, but they involve characters from the original Watchmen series) and I loved that Batman, Superman, Lex Luther and the Joker (as well as many other DC villains) play a pretty big part in this new series. Doomsday Clock picks up seven years after Watchmen ended, only now everyone knows that Adrian Veidt was the one responsible for the murder of millions. Since that bombshell broke the world is on the brink of of imploding... again. It's up to Veidt and Rorschach (or someone appearing to be Rorschach) to do something about it. I loved it and I can't wait to keep reading this series!!


A fascinating look on what really motivates us. We don't always get motivated by rewards or the the old "stick and carrot" motivators, we generally as a whole, are motivated by autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Drive takes a deeper look at businesses and owners that that use "motivation 3.0" to appeal towards employees real drives and offers ideas on how people can inject real motivation in all aspects of their lives: work, child-rearing, personal life, and more. The toolkit at the end is really good and something that readers can return to again and again. A great guide that can help you change how you think, it was really eye opening!

Friday, October 11, 2019

Full Throttle

Everything short story in this collection is perfect. Literally. Every. One. As a librarian I ADORED Late Returns; a story about a bookmobile that happens to service ghosts intent on returning their overdue books. All I Care About is You didn't grab me at first, but two pages later I was sold and the ending threw me for a freaking loop. The world building in that short story is masterful and I read a whole novel set in that world! Faun was like Chronicles of Narnia meets Oz with a dark twist and characters who aren't very moral (karma bitch!). I could go on and on about how much I loved each story, but really, do yourself a freaking favor and read this book. The stories are dark, trippy, fantastical, amazingly well written, and impossible to put down or guess the ending to. I even loved the intro; Hill talks about all the influences he had while writing the book from Ray Bradbury to his father, Stephen King, to Lawrence Block and monster movies; Joe Hill credits a lot of amazing creators out there for helping inspire his unique style. It's a love letter written to the greats that us mere humans are lucky enough to get to read. An amazing collection and one I'll revisit again and again. Joe Hill's writing is only getting better and I can't wait to read what he writes next!!

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Razor's Edge

I was a MAJOR fan of the special effects and the narrator. They really helped pull the story together. Don't let the cover fool you either; Princess Leia is the star of this show with Han Solo following close behind, Luke Skywalker on the other-hand is a minor footnote in this tale of deceit, cunning, and badassery. When Princess Leia is forced to flee into pirate territory she has no idea how dire her situation has become. She may not be battling imperial ships, but she does have to contend with backstabbing Alderaaneans, untrustworthy pirates, and Han who is forever pushing on her nerves. Fast paced and full of near misses, action, and riveting chase scenes. This book is pure fun!

Stumptown: Volume One

Wow, I fell write into this book and was sad when I stumbled out of it at the end. Dex Parios is a private investigator and she's really stepped into it this time. Her gambling debts have gotten ahead of her and the owner of the casino is calling Dex in to make good on them. Her granddaughter has gone missing and she wants Dex to clear her schedule immediately and find her. Easier said then done. The granddaughter was running with some bad people and its only going to get worse before it gets better. Gritty, witty, and all around bad-ass. I want to continue reading this series and I definitely want to watch the TV adaptation. So glad to have a new graphic novel series to devour. I'm all in!

Are You Listening?

I will say the illustrations in this graphic novel are lush and gorgeous. But as for the story itself, I couldn't really get into it. Maybe because I couldn't necessarily relate or because I didn't care, I'm not sure. Bea is running away and she lucks into Lou who gives her a ride. Together the two annoy each other and rely on each other in equal measure. They find a stray cat on their journey and they find themselves bonding over that and over past trauma they've both experienced. Soon they're no longer on the map and the only thing they have is each other. But is that enough? I was very underwhelmed but I didn't hate it. I think you need the right reader for this one. A

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: New School Nightmare

A cute, unique take on Buffy that's aimed at younger teens. Buffy Summers has moved to a new town and that means she has to start at a new middle school. Is there anything worse for a teenager? She's having trouble making friends and the librarian is being really weird around her and won't stop calling Buffy "the chosen one." When Buffy encounters a vampire, she knows that she might actually have to turn to the weirdo librarian for help. Soon Buffy becomes friends with other preteens with oddities of their own. Sarafina is learning witchcraft and Alvaro becomes a werewolf once a month; but together the trio will help keep the vampires at bay. Now only if they had time to keep up with their homework and get some sleep in. Cute and told in comics, doodles, and diary entries. The only character that is "the same" from the original Buffy universe is Buffy herself, everyone else is reinvented. A lot of fun and a good way to get the younger generation interested in a classic. 

Monday, October 7, 2019

The Walking Dead: Book Sixteen

Honestly.... I wasn't disappointed. I had NO IDEA how this series was ever going to end, but Robert Kirkman pulled it off very well. It wasn't what I was necessarily expecting, but that's a good thing. I wanted something off the beaten path, that still felt fitting for a series that I have been invested in for nearly a decade. I really enjoyed the author's note at the end as well. Overall I am glad I stuck by this series. I really got invested in the characters and their journey to find life instead of just survival. One of a kind and I'm sad to see it end, but it's time. Great job Robert Kirkman, that ending got me a little choked up!!

The Lady From the Black Lagoon

I adored this book! I quickly learned how little I actually knew about Hollywood and its classic monsters and how much more I WANTED to learn. Boss babe, Mallory O'Meara (I seriously need to be friends with this chick), had always been enamored with the creature from the black lagoon and as a young goth and film industry worker she set out to learn more about the woman who created the iconic monster. Researching the woman behind the monster became an obsession and it led Mallory on a chase through old Hollywood, its sexism, horror tropes, and double standards. Milicent Patrick was a woman ahead of her time who got hardly any credit for her work as an artist. She created countless monsters, portraits, and even worked as an animator for Disney, but men always took credit for her work. Little is know about her, but O'Meara spends years putting together the bigger picture and attempts to give Milicent the credit and fame that she's owed. Witty, fascinating, and hard to put down. A book that horror nerds, Hollywood fans, and feminists will enjoy.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

This Tender Land

A wonderful tale of four runaway vagabonds who escape their miserable confinement in an Indian School/ orphanage during the thirties. Brothers, Opie and Albert are some of the few white kids at the Indian school, although that doesn't mean they're any better treated. Under the "black witch" they are often subject to beatings, nights in solitary confinement and hard manual labor. When things reach a breaking point they decide to canoe down the river with the good friend Moses, a mute Indian boy, and Emma a recently orphaned six year old girl who looks on the older boys as her protectors and older brothers. The stakes are high as the black witch has alerted the authorities that precious little Emma has been kidnapped, and the boys must use all their wiles to evade other vagabonds, police, and poor people who would be happy to sell them out for the reward money. Entrancing and wonderfully told; these four young characters will earn a place in your heart. It's a touching journey of freedom, discovery, and adventure.