Sunday, May 31, 2020

The Greatest Beer Run Ever

Interesting; a story you have to read to believe. This is the insane, hard to believe story of a man who went overseas to bring beer and words of encouragement to the boys from his neighborhood serving in Vietnam. Chickie served four years in the Marines but was dubbed to old to re-up and serve in the Vietnam War. On a whim he agrees to the neighborhoods crazy idea of boosting the soldier's morale. Armed with a case of beer and his seaman's card he signed up on the first ship headed to Vietnam and literally jumped right into the was AS A CIVILIAN to check n on the boys from his neighborhood. It's wild; the scrapes he gets in are impressive (and terrifying). Interesting memoir and perfect for military lovers and vets.

I'm Your Huckleberry

This book was... interesting. I didn't know much about Val other than the movies I'd seen about him but a lot of this book was which celebrity women he's been with, how good he is at everything, his career, all the roles he's turned down, bizarre poetry, and a lot of spiritual beliefs about LOVE and seeing angels and having premonitions. In chapter one he said that he had a crush on all his readers but I can't say I necessarily return that feeling. It was interesting learning some Hollywood stuff BUT... he came across as pretty pompous. So much name dropping and wild claims about how he could do anything. I would rate this as a 2, but I'm bumping it up to a 3 because of the entertainment value and pictures.

Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors

What an enjoyable and fresh take on Pride and Prejudice!! A lot less campy than the movie "Bride and Prejudice;" this Indian version flips around some of the gender roles (Wickham is a girl who cozies up to Darcy and Trisha tries warning him off) and sets it in modern day San Francisco. Dr. Trisha Raje is an acclaimed neurosurgeon and DJ (Darcy) is an acclaimed chef who has moved to the US to help his sister deal with a tumor affecting her eyesight. Dr. Raje is the one helping Emma with her tumor and that puts her in direct contact with DJ. They immediately get off to a bad start; especially when they realize that they have to work together for a catered event for Dr. Raje's brother. Deliciously cute, a realistic slow burn take on a classic. I can't wait to read more in this series!

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

The Honey-Don't List

Is this book life changing? No. Is it hilarious? Yes. I read and loved The Unhoneymooners so I knew I was in for a treat when I picked this up. So witty, fun, and breezy this is the perfect beach read. Carey has worked for the Tripps for a decade and all she wants is time to rest. They have a TV show, multiple books and are America's home renovating sweethearts. The facade is starting to crack though and Carey's job is to help Melissa Tripps keep it together. James is Rusty Tripp's "assistant" and he couldn't be more different from Carey. They are like oil and water. When they are both informed last minute that their vacation's are cancelled and they have to go on a week long book tour with the Tripps and keep them from screaming at each other public they find themselves unable to avoid each other. And maybe it's the stress, but there seems to be a bit of a spark. Cute, charming, and hilarious. I loved every page of this!

When Calls the Heart

Very clean and wholesome; When Calls the Heart follows a young proper woman who travels to the Canadian West to teach in a one room schoolhouse near her half brother. Instead of getting to stay with her brother however she is given an outpost over 100 miles away. She has to learn to fend for herself, manage kids who have never had schooling, and try not to get too lonely. She finds herself looking forward to seeing a strapping young man but when she finds out he's the father to one of her students she's a little heartbroken. She relies on her faith and her family to make it through the loneliness and doubt. i really like the setting and it's a quick and light read perfect for all ages.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Dancing at the Pity Party

What a poignant heartfelt book. Unlike anything else out there; the graphic novel is a memoir of loss. One girl trying to come to terms with the loss of her mom, the anger, the platitudes, the awkwardness, the sadness is all brilliantly captured through comic art. Funny, moving, and exceptionally deep and nuanced. Sometimes you need to let it all out and this book perfectly captures what it's like to suffer the loss of a parent. Even if you're lucky enough not to have lost one, reading this can help how you interact with friends and loved ones as they're coping with loss. An absolutely exceptional read!

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Diamonds are Forever

Quite different than the movie, and filled with sexist, racist, and homophobic content. However, this was written in the fifties so I won't judge it through today's lens. Plot wise - I thought there would be much more about the diamonds, but really James Bond is seeing how far down the criminal pipeline he can go. They're pretty sure the source of illegal diamonds is from French Guinea (or around there) and they know they end up in America. It's up to Bond to pose as one of the low level carriers and see how far on the criminal trail he can get. His new job takes him to New York, Saratoga, and Vegas. These American mobsters are more methodical and organized than he gave them credit for and it's not as easy as a job as he assumed it would be. Lots of action, intrigue, some sex appeal, and unique villains. Classic James Bond.

Friday, May 22, 2020

CatStronauts: Space Station Situation

Seriously! These books keep getting cuter! The CatStronaut program is under more pressure than ever as their hubba bubba telescope is broke and frequent meteor showers keep interrupting their communications. To make matters worse the president of the  United States is breathing down their necks because it's an election year and he keeps blaming his polling numbers on all the crazy situations they're getting into up in space. Cute and amazing. Give me more!

CatStronauts: Race to Mars

Another witty and adorable installment in the CatStronauts series. This middle grade graphic novel features - you guessed it - cats in space. In their newest adventure other teams of space cats decide they all want to be the first to Mars. The CatStronauts are blindsided and hurry to catch up. They can't let the CosmoCats beat them! Witty, punny, and too cute. Kids and adults will love these adorable illustrations!

Hadley Beckett's Next Dish

A really cute, slow-burn, culinary romance. Hadley Beckett has a top rated cooking show on the Culinary and she is beloved for her southern charm. When she competes on a cooking show with the even more famous (and studly), Maxwell Cavanagh she isn't expecting what happens. He's drunk and flies off the handle at her when she wins over him. It's mortifying. Hadley doesn't expect to every have to work with that pompous chef again, but when the network wants to put them on the most famous documentary show together - they have no choice but to put the knives away and try to be civil. What could possibly happen? Filled with mouthwatering cooking scenes, romantic build-up, and lots of second chances - readers will gobble up this inspirational romance!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

China Dolls

Man - I really enjoyed this book! Three young Chinese Americans meet up in San Francisco during the late thirties and become fast friends. They bond through their love of the spotlight. They love being on the stage and dancing, dazzling the audience with the grace and wit. From Forbidden City Nightclub to other venues; they delight in sequins, lace, and silk. Grace is outgoing but escaping a hard past in Plain City, Ohio. Helen is smothered in her family compound in San Francisco's Chinatown. Ruby left her parents in Hawaii to find stardom in California. The three share many ups and downs, lots of prejudice from White Americans, especially when America enters the war. Can their friendship survive all? Told through alternating perspectives; this is a timeless, complicated, and unique story of friendship. Wonderful!

Saturday, May 16, 2020

If It Bleeds

Another stellar collection from Stephen King! Four short stories, each compelling, dark, but not super creepy. In Mr. Harrigan's Phone, a young boy starts to work for the introverted old billionaire down the street. What happens after his death defies belief - or does it? The Life of Chick is a multi-layered story told in three parts and in reverse. The world is slowly ending - internet and power are going out worldwide, California has fallen into the ocean, Asia is starving, and someone named Chuck is all over the bill boards. Who is Chuck? If It Bleeds is a short story featuring Holly and Jerome from the Bill Hodges trilogy. What if there is a new evil and the only who can stop it is Holly (my personal favorite in this collection)? Finally there is Rat, a story about a man willing to do anything to finish his novel. He goes out to his father's old cabin in the woods determined to get the story out of himself one way or another (very reminiscent of another Stephen King story that was turned into the movie Secret Window). Another stellar collection! I loved it! Give me more!

Friday, May 15, 2020

The Lost Fairy Tales

A cute follow up book in The Pages & Co. series. Not as strong as the first, but we get a lot more mischief and adventure in this one. Tilly and her best friend Oskar are told NOT to explore fairy tales because they don't have the safety of source books. So of course they decide to go bookwandering in one and everything goes wrong. Not wrong in the way that Tilly's grandparents warned, but wrong in that pieces of the story seem missing and characters are acting... well out of character. Could it have anything to do with Mr. Chalk the villain from the first book or is this a new evil? Lot of fun adventures, cute quips, love the comments about librarians. I'm interested to see where the third book goes!


This seriously might make my Christmas card list. This book was SO GOOD! I learned so much about Oscar Robertson, Crispus Attucks, race relations in Indianapolis, and Ray Crowe. This was well written and would appeal to both younger and adult readers. I loved the format, I loved the photos and the newspaper articles, and I love the way it was written. I knew that the Klan had deep roots in Indiana but I never realized how directly it impacted Indianapolis' schools and for HOW LONG. Crispus Attucks had to fight for years to even be allowed to play in the state tournament and once they did Black Hoosiers finally had something of their own to succeed in. At first it was a novelty for whites, but then as Atttucks turned into an unstoppable power house - it became something that they too took pride in. Attucks was an Indianapolis team and for years Indianapolis just couldn't compete with the rest of the state. Like Joe Louis and Rosa Parks; Oscar Robertson and the two time undefeated state champion Attucks team became a rallying cry for integration and better race relations. Eye opening, insightful, and empowering; far more than just a basketball book.

The Knockout Queen

A knockout. Literally. This unique coming of age story has many layers and complexities but the enduring friendship of two oddballs is perfectly captured on the page. Michael is a loner. His mom got out of jail and only reclaimed custody of his sister so he's living in his aunt's tiny house. He has no friends and is the loneliest gay kid in the world. Until his six foot three, intimidatingly awkward neighbor, Bunny takes a shine to him. They soon become thick as thieves. He finally has a friend in high school and he can go next door to Bunny's mansion anytime he likes. Things are looking up. Until the fight that is. The fight will transform their friendship and their futures and there is no telling if they'll be able to survive the consequences. Heartfelt, moving, hilarious, and deeply insightful. This coming of age story is one for the books.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Last One to Lie

The twists and turns keep coming in this thriller. Fans of Gone Girl and The Woman in the Window will love this fast paced novel starring an unreliable female narrator that you just can't trust. When Kelsey goes to pick up her three year old from daycare and she's not there - shit hits the fan! Not only that but the daycare has no record of her ever being there and her husband has mysteriously disappeared. Did her abduct her? Why is no one taking her seriously? She starts to get close to Detective Paul Ryan - she'll use sex to get her way and she wants him extra motivated to help her find her daughter; her husband she could care less about. The detective soon realizes that things just aren't adding up. What is this gorgeous wife hiding and why does he keep going back for more? When readers finally get to the "aha moment" nothing is as it seems. Who will you believe when the web of lies is finally revealed? A shocking ending will leave all in awe.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Christmas in Winter Hill

Short and sweet, this inspirational holiday read is a light palate cleanser - good for when you'er getting stressed around the holidays. Single mom Krista and her daughter Emily move from Arizona to Winter Hill Washington and they're in for a treat. Krista isn't one for Christmas cheer but that's about to change when she takes over as city manager and has to help out with Christmastown. Everyone in the small town gets involved and it's a month long festival. This year is even more special as they are giving away a "Christmas house" - a lovingly refurbished historic home to the best essay (see where this is going yet?). Krista and her daughter have made lots of new friends (her assistant's son isn't hard on the eyes) but she's also made some enemies as well. The town's finance manager has a bone to pick with Christmastown and he takes out his frustration on Krista. Was moving to this town a good idea? Will she survive without a car in a small apartment? Is she happier? A quick read with a happy ending all wrapped up in a bow.

We Ride Upon Sticks

Phenomenal! This book is a mix of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Now and Then. I adored every second of it! A bunch of high school seniors sign their name to the devil's book (i.e. an Emilio Estevez spiral notebook) in return for having the best field hockey season of their lives. They are going to the state championships come hell or high water! It's 1989 and this motley crew of teenage girls (and Boy Cory) is living high on life. Now that they're toying around with "witchcraft" their game and their friendship has never been better. They're really meshing as a team and they have their black book of Emilio to thank for it. Told back and forth between the characters this story of identity, friendship, sexuality, school smarts, witchcraft, and field hockey is hilarious and unforgettable. Descriptions don't do it justice. I adored every character and their idiosyncrasies. From Jen and her claw (bangs aquanetted to high heaven) to Sue Yoon and her kool aid hair to Little Smitty's beloved rabbit - this story is one for the ages. Read it already!

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Hillbilly Elegy

I really enjoyed this smart and talented young man's journey out of poverty and into a future of his own making and I really rooted for him the whole time. He wrote well and persuasively - some times TOO persuasively. The reason I didn't rank this book higher is because it was a little too preachy - which honestly maybe was his intention; but still irked me none the less. I was also saddened that he thought government intervention was largely a waste on kids and families like him in the Appalachian mountains and in the rust belt. His attitude is more that hillbillies, family units, and communities have to start their own change rather than needing outside assistance. Don't get me wrong that has to change too - but I think it needs to be a mixture of the two. In this heartfelt memoir; JD Vance tells about his conventional upbringing and how he was able to overcome the many challenges (poverty, addiction, abuse, rotating dads, etc) because of his Mamaw and the Marines. He pulls himself up by the bootstraps and does what no one in his family has ever done before - go to Yale. It's 100% impressive and inspiring, especially when you read about his childhood. I could have done without the preachiness at the end though.

Friday, May 1, 2020


I literally didn't even know this was a movie but after reading it I HAVE to watch the movie now. Where was I and how did I not know this was a thing?! A perfectly charming, unique, and wonderful fantasy about a boy who vows to bring back a fallen star to prove his love to a village girl. To get to the star he must cross over the fairy wall and enter a new realm - one where everything is different and nothing is what it seems. It reminded me of The Princess Bride and The Hobbit. Super cute and adorable; I loved all the characters and the storyline was superb!