Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Map of Stories

A quick enjoyable read - I enjoy this series the more the bookwandering world is fleshed out. I really wish that this series had been around when I was a child. It's so magical and playful! In this third installment, Tilly is desperately trying to find the Archivists so they can right the wrongs that the head of the English Underlibrary are doing. Her grandparents don't believe that the archive - but her mother does. Tilly and her best friend Oskar are secreted out of London to Washington DC by her mother who wants them to follow the clues Tilly has gathered and find the archivists. With the help of her mother's friends; Tilly and Oskar go to the Library of Congress and encounter their biggest adventure ever. They encounter paper forests, magic trains, William Shakespeare, and more - but the clock is ticking - will they be able to save the future of bookwandering? Fun and inventive. I can't wait for more in this series! 

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Float Plan

I adored this book! I read it in one day. The characters were charming, quirky, and realistic. They were battling demons and weren't always the nicest to each other - but honestly - it was refreshing to see characters be so REAL.  Anna's fiancĂ© tragically committed suicide nearly a year prior. Not only did his life end that day - so did Annas. She's been stuck inside her grief unable to cope for months. When she gets a reminder on her phone about a trip they were supposed to take together; Anna decides to be reckless and take the boat and do the trip on their sailboat solo. After one night of she realizes there is no way she can do all the island hopping by herself - she already almost crashed the sailboat in 12 hours and she still has over a month to go. She finds Keane, an experienced Irish sailor, willing to help her for free, in return for a trip to Puerto Rico. He's adrift in life as well - having lost his leg in an accident a few years prior. Once a sought after sailor - now he's reduced for begging for piddly little jobs to scrape by because most don't trust that he is able enough. At first Anna is still consumed by grief but soon she and Keane start making new memories; sunsets at sea, dolphins, weathering storms, and even finding a stray dog. Together they learn that even though the future may not be certain - the future looks a lot better when they're together. Utterly charming. A great story filled with unforgettable characters. You'll be rooting for them the whole way!

Monday, October 26, 2020


This one definitely tackled some big issues (more so than her other three) and I really appreciated her author's note at the beginning. Elliot Reed has received her dream job - she working her late father's favorite pro-football team, the Mustangs. She thought it was going to be a cakewalk but when the hunky quarterback blacks out the NFL logo on his jersey AND kneels during the anthem for a game she knows that she has her work cut out for her. Soon she's having to work directly with Quinton to "restore" his image and run damage control. People all over the country are sending hate mail, spewing vitriol, and slandering him every chance they can. What Elliot doesn't expect is that sparks will fly with Quinton. He's filling a hole she didn't know she had in her life. Touching, deep, funny, and extremely relevant. I could have done without some of the side characters (Elliot's friends) - but I have a sneaking suspicion they are due for their own books soon - if Vonnie doesn't get one next! Love this series. 

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Melody Finch

Fans of Disney's The Rescuers, the crocodile hunter, and Zoobooks (the magazine for kids) will eat up this inventive and educational middle grade adventure story. Set in Australia's Murray Darling Basin; Melody Finch follows a young girl who has just been magically transformed into a Diamond Firetail Finch. A drought is slowly crippling the rivers and the surrounding ecosystem that all the animals, birds and insects rely on. Melody finally begins to realize just how important the rains are to the wildlife and she begins to appreciate all the nature around her no that she has a bird's eye view of what is actually going on. Storms finally come bringing blessed rain; but Melody must fly from Charleville to the Coorong to tell her grandmother not to sell the Isabella, a boat that's been in the family for generations. With the drought crippling the tourism economy her Nana Bell needs to make ends meet - but if the rains reach her in time she won't have to. The journey to Coorang will take Melody days to complete but now that she's made new friends the time seems to "fly" by. A wonderful way to introduce children to Australian wildlife; at the conclusion of the novel there is even a little encyclopedia outlining all the animals, birds, and insects that Melody encountered on her journey. Fun, fanciful, and wholesome - a well written adventure story that kids will eat up. 

Every Body Looking

Iloh, Candice. Every Body Looking. digital. 2020. Penguin Random House Audio. 

Moving and lyrical - this coming of age story set in verse is sensational and unforgettable. Burdened with heavy expectations at a young age, Ada struggles to figure out who she is underneath the mask she puts on to appease her parents and her peers. Her father is a Nigerian immigrant and her mother is an emotionally abusive African American woman suffering from many mental health issues. Her father has custody and raises her in the church - setting very high standards for how she should look and behave. All Ada wants to do is dance and draw - but she is an obedient daughter and always puts her elders first. Told in alternating timelines between public school and moving away to college - readers feel the anguish and inner turmoil as Ada struggles to peel back the mask that holds her in place. Flashbacks to painful moments from the past - being molested by a cousin - segue to painful moments in Ada's now -  suffering through a gynecology visit. Culture, sexuality, passion, and inner truth are discovered and fought for. Expertly narrated by the author herself - this coming of age story is one readers won't forget.  At times painful, but ultimately cathartic for Ada and readers alike; impossible to put down. - Erin Cataldi, Johnson Co. Public Library, Franklin, IN

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Aurora Rising

YES! There was a hole in my life after reading the Illuminae Files and this definitely helped patch it up! This teen science fiction story is amazing. First off - the characters are amazing. You could hate science fiction and still love novels by this writing duo because their characters are so compelling - they are witty, unique, and the chemistry is palpable. Secondly - the action never stops. It  is almost impossible to set this book down while you're reading it. It's too addictive and one more chapter turns into an hours long binge. Finally - the worldbuilding and the story are complex and intricately plotted. But don't let that scare you - the story flows so well that it never seems complicated or cluttered. When Tyler flew out into the fold to burn off some steam he certainly never expected to find anything or anyone out there. He catches a distress signal - from one of the most infamous lost vessels of all times - the Haddenfield. The ship disappeared nearly three centuries ago but the distress signal is still coming in strong. When Tyler boards all the humans in the cryo chambers have shriveled and died over the centuries - all except one. What happens next is like a series of dominos falling onto one another and starting a chain reaction. When Tyler and Aurora go back to the space station together they have no idea how much their lives have just changed. SO FREAKING GOOD!

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Ella Enchanted

I've always assumed that I read this book and have seen the movie but after listening to the charming audio version of it I really don't think I have. The story was new and fresh and fantastical. I loved it. I'm a sucker for fairy tale re-tellings and the superb narration (the narrator sounds like an honest to god kid!) kicked this middle grade fantasy into overdrive. When Ella was a newborn a fairy placed a curse on her - she would be obedient. Ella cannot disobey an order - which make it dangerous if the wrong people found out! After her mother dies she is sent to finishing school and two odious girls proceed to make her life a living hell. She runs away to try and find the fairy who cursed and along the way she has many an adventure. There is romance, action, adventure, humor, and fun. All around great storytelling. Empowering for young girls!

Monday, October 19, 2020

Lupe Wong Won't Dance

Charming, uplifting, and unique - this middle grade novel is a tour de force. Lupe Wong is willing to do whatever it takes to get straight A's so she can meet her baseball hero, Fu Li Hernandez. Like Lupe Fu Li is Mexicanese/Chinacan and since her father's death there has been a hole in her life and she is convinced that if she meets Fu Li it will somehow make her closer to her father. The only thing standing in her way is... square dancing. PE was supposed to be her easy A - but when she finds out that she will be required to dance and dance with a boy - she vows to do all in her power to stop it. What starts as merely a crusade against dancing turns into a crusade for cultural identity, friendship, and speaking up for what you believe in. I may or may not have teared up a few times as well. This story is warm, wholesome, and filled with the greatest characters and life lessons. I loved this book with my whole heart! 

The Lucky One

Pretty typical Nicholas Sparks romance - I am glad I did not see the movie first because when I finished the book I looked up the trailer and I did not love the casting. I would have been sad if I read the book with those actors in mind. While serving overseas after 9/11 - Logan uncovers a laminated picture of a beautiful girl. He keeps it on him and suddenly his luck starts changing. He starts winning at card games - he makes it through numerous battles that his military brethren don't. He stays alive over there BECAUSE of that picture. When he makes it back stateside he is determined to find the woman in the photo. All he has is some geographical markers in the photo and her initials, but that doesn't deter him. He walks from Colorado to the East coast with his dog - to clear his mind and to escape his demons. He doesn't expect that he'll actually find her, but when he does he is blown away by her beauty and charm. He even starts falling for her little boy too. What he doesn't take into consideration is her conniving ex-husband. How can he get her to trust him and how on earth can he ever tell her the truth? Cute, sappy, and a little over the top. Memorable characters make it a fun read.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Rancho de Amor

Well written, but predictable and a little underwhelming. A New York City editor flies out to the wild west of California to find the reclusive bestselling romance author Loretta de Bonnair. Her pink covered book is sweeping the nation - everyone is reading it and it's the best selling romance book since 50 Shades of Grey. Her publishing house isn't doing too well and they think if they can tap into the romance market and snatch up this insanely popular novelist then they can stay afloat. The only trouble is they need to track her down. Catherine Doyle heads to the author's small western hometown and instead of an author finds a sexy cowboy with a swagger and a nerdy little bookkeeper. If only she could get someone who actually knew Loretta. She's not looking for love she's looking for her company's salvation. What if the answer to her troubles was right in front of her if she would just open her eyes (and her heart)? Cute, sappy, slow build with no kiss til the end. I could 100% see this being a Hallmark movie. 

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Melania and Me

I really enjoyed learning more about how the inauguration was planned, the inner workings of the East Wing, and insight into Melania's life - but I did not enjoy the whiney "look at me" moments from the author. Stephanie constantly touted her resume, her work with famous designers, editors, and politicians; including snippets from articles she was mentioned in and lots of photographic evidence to reinforce her larger than life reputation. Stephanie put herself in a stupid situation that was toxic for her emotional and physical health, her family and her finances. Yes she was friends with Melania since the early 2000s. They hung out and texted a lot. Then it quickly turned into Melania wanting favors from their friendship leading into planning and executing the inauguration and then taking an unpaid position in Melania's cabinet. She had no title and no salary but hung around because Melania was her friend and it was her patriotic duty? Come on. Is she really surprised that the Trump family threw her under the bus to save their own asses later on down the line? Again, there were some interesting tidbits about Melania, Ivanka and the Trump family but honestly no shocking revelations. They're all scum.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Well Played

Charming, cute, and the perfect follow up to Well Met. In the first installment the author focuses Emily and her budding romance with Simon - in Well Played we finally get to see more of Stacey, the wild and fun best friend of Emily. Emily is bleach blond, flirty, fun and full of insecurities. She's stuck in a rut but she doesn't want anyone to know it. When she finds out that Emily and Simon are engaged she realizes that she needs a change. She can't live over her parent's garage forever. One night she drunkenly messages Dex - the sexy kilted man she slept with at the renaissance faire last summer and to her surprise he responds. What follows is 11 months of emails and texts as they get to know each other for real and start to fall head over heels. Only there is one big secret and when they meet up at the Willow Creek Renaissance Faire next summer their long distance romance may implode. Cute, charming, and fun - a few steamy scenes for those who are into it. I really hope there is another installment in this series focusing on April!

Monday, October 12, 2020

The Amish Cookie Club

A multi-layered story but the main thread woven throughout is that you shouldn't believe everything you hear. Four Amish mothers get together every Friday to make cookies for the Sunday services and to lean on each other for support and friendship. When Verna tells her friends about her strong willed daughter getting fired from yet another job the friends offer not only their support but come up with a job opportunity for hard headed Myrna. In a neighboring church district there is a young widower with three children and a baby; struggling and in need of help. Myrna is dispatched to help out, but she is convinced that she is being set up and groomed to be a replacement wife. She is pleasantly surprised when she finds herself falling for the kids and is pleased that for once her hard work is appreciated. But when a rumor starts floating around about the reasons behind his wife's death (refusing treatment for breast cancer) the four friends in the Amish cookie club start to have doubts about this widower's character and their judgements start to rub off on Myrna. A story of second chances and a reminder that gossip does more harm than good. Sweet and wonderful. I can't wait to read the rest in this series!

Bear Bones

The third installment of the Burr Lafayette Mystery series is arguably the strongest and most compelling. Burr really starts to develop as a character and more facets of his personality emerge. Per usual Burr somehow lands himself smackdab in a murder case. One of his clients who has been a cash cow for nearly a year (a rarity for his office) has been found murdered and buried. He takes on the husband as a client (he needs that money!) even though the evidence seems to make him a shoo in for a guilty verdict. To top it off his wife is trying to get him arrested for being late on alimony, he's not sure how "committed" he wants to be with Maggie, and his elevator is broken... again. Not your typical courtroom drama; filled with wit, wry observations, and unforgettable characters. It's not fast paced, but more a meandering journey that takes readers on journey laden with good sights, food, and potential suspects. Lots of fun! 

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Basketful of Heads

Stellar art and one hell of a unique story. When June goes to Brody Island to visit her boyfriend on the last day of his summer shift as an island cop things go sour quickly. Four convicts have escaped and her boyfriend Liam is kidnapped. Left to defend herself alone at the Chiefs cottage she grabs an old Norse Viking axe hanging on the wall and starts taking swings. Soon she's got a basketful of heads but all she wants is answers. Where is her boyfriend what exactly has been up to on the island all summer and what is the deal with the axe. An excellent tale of vengeance, intrigue, gore, and badass women. I can't wait to see what other gems Hill House Comics put out. A very promising taste of more to come! 

The Roommate

Charming, unique, and porn positive this romcom is pleasant, bubbly, and filled with great sex. When Clara Wheaton decided to flee the East Coast to rent a room with her childhood crush; she's being impulsive for the first time in her life. She's used to being the good one in her socialite family - not one start scandals or go off script. When she arrives in LA she is shocked to discover that Everett (her crush) has made alternate plans for the summer and has rented out his room to a complete stranger. Instead of cozying up to her crush for a few months she finds herself sharing a house with a bona fide porn star. To both their surprise they actually start to like each other and the housing situation isn't bad. They both like homecooked meals, action movies, and wit. But when sparks start to fly can Clara let her guard down to let Josh Darling show her what lovemaking looks and feels like? Maybe they'll find out they have even more in common then they thought if she can only let her hair down. Fun and flirty - albeit a bit "unbelievable." Sexy fluff for the win!

Clown in a Cornfield

This books is 80's slasher nostalgia. It reads as if it's a horror movie: lots of gore - light on story. Quinn Maybrook and her father have moved from Philly to the middle of a cornfield. Quinn is used the bustle of the city and now she has to listen to the rustle of the cornstalks in her new midwestern town. She and her dad just want a fresh start after the tragic death of her mother - but it seems like even that is too much to ask for. She quickly falls in with the wrong crowd and is convinced to go to a party in - you guessed it - a cornfield. Things start off promising: screwdrivers, good music, dancing - but suddenly the town's mascot (a clown named Frendo) - is outside killing people with a crossbow. How is this real life and why is it after the high school students?! Quinn's only hope is to make it out of the cornfield without a clown right behind her. She's definitely not in Philly anymore. Creepy and very bloody - I would love to see a movie version of this. 

Monday, October 5, 2020

Winter Counts

I love reading indigenous voices and Winter Counts is no exception. Set on a reservation it shows just how far one man will go to keep his nephew and his community safe. Known to most in his community as a local hired thug (he deals out justice when the system fails) - Virgil Wounded Horse is sought out by a local official -because someone is bringing heroin on to the reservation and it needs to stop. Virgil isn't interested - how can anyone be certain who is responsible? But all that changes when his fourteen year old nephew overdoses and barely survives. Suddenly Virgil is VERY interested in making someone pay - even if he's not sure who. Gritty, suspenseful, and at times a little underwhelming. I really enjoyed all the characters and the atmosphere - but I feel like the whole mystery aspect could have been better developed. I will definitely read more from this author!

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Regarding the Fountain

I haven't read this bad boys is years, but once I cracked open the first page it all came rushing back! The illustrations, the letters, the punny names, and the town scandal. It all holds up! The story is told through memos, postcards, letters, newspaper clippings, and various other correspondence - it's really unique! Dry Creek Middle School is in need of a new fountain so the principal reaches out to Flowing Waters Fountains to commission a new one - what he didn't bank on was the exuberant nature of the fountain designer - the book chronicles her correspondence not only with the principal but with a 5th grade class as well. They submit ideas for what they want the fountain to look like and in the process get a fun new pen pal. As the students research their town's history they also start to uncover some weird things - why did the water disappear 30 years ago on the exact same day that the middle school opened? Why is the water fountain always leaking? Super fun!

Tools of Engagement

Tools of Engagement wraps up the Hot and Hammered trilogy and it might be my favorite? I like the sexy cowboy the most out of all the men in the series. He's the youngest (only 23) - but he also has the most responsibility of all the men in this series. The only reason he came to Port Jefferson was because his half sister asked him to take care of her five year old daughter while she ran around the country. Taking care of a young kid is not what he envisioned with his life but he is smitten with his niece. He quickly finds a job in construction (where he meets Bethany) and is able to provide a stable environment for the little girl in his care. Bethany is sick of her brother's shit - she wants to do more than staging houses - she wants to flip one. Stephen laughs her off and she throws down the gauntlet - she's going to do her own flip and she steals one his best employees, Wes (the sexy cowboy). Wes and Bethany have amazing sexual tension but they "can't stand each other" - basically they are idiots and it's only a matter of time before the two fall into bed and into love with each other. Cute, steamy, and completely unbelievable. Great fluff!