Thursday, December 31, 2020

Ogden Nash's Zoo

My family seems to love Ogden Nash but I am just so-so about him. He's like a Dr. Seuss poet for adults. His poetry is irreverent and "funny" and geared towards adult humor. This collection features a bunch of ridiculous animal poetry. Some of it rhymes, some of it doesn't, much of it is nonsensical. The best part of this little collection is the cute illustrations accompanying each poem. Maybe I don't understand or appreciate Ogden Nash at this stage in my life but I will try revisiting him another time.

The Wit and Wisdom of Tyrion Lannister

A wonderful collection containing the best of Tyrion Lannister's quips, retorts, and comebacks. Easily one of the favorite characters in the book series and the tv show - he also has some of the best lines in the series. This cute little gift book has over 150 pages of quotes and illustrations from throughout the Game of Thrones book series. Broken into sections: on drinking, on being a dwarf, on warfare, on music, on family values, and more - this collection of quotations is perfect for any Game of Thrones fan. 

Monster Stew

Man this book sent me right back to my childhood! A nine year old boy is having the creepiest night of his life. It starts off with his mom making corned beef and turnip stew with lima beans (yuck!) and only gets worse from there. He has to eat nine bites of it! Even the dog won't touch it! His brother gets a stomach from eating it and then there is a huge storm! His mom tells him to go to bed but he swears the bright lights in the sky aren't lightning flashes but rather space monsters. Filled with lots of great illustrations kids will eat up this adorably "creepy" story. Great for young readers. 

...And Then You Die of Dysentery


A cute little coffee table book that is sure to garner some laughs and inspire some conversation about the fucked up past time of playing the Oregon Trail. Everyone remembers their first death - this book  combines adulting with life skills we learned from playing the classic computer game, The Oregon Trail. The illustrations/graphics go along hilariously well with each maxim and this cute book will make a great stocking stuffer. I wouldn't mind having some of these "life lessons" framed and hanging. A quick but fun read. 

Dogs Think That Every Day is Christmas

Short and sweet - I was thinking that this was going to be something else entirely - but this book is straight outta left field. That isn't to say that I didn't enjoy it - I did - it was just so unexpected. The book opens with a with an introduction and confession about how he wronged his dog Pete when he was a child and has never fully been absolved for it - then follows the poem "Dogs Think That Every Day is Christmas" that is not as child friendly as these amateurish illustrations would lead you to believe. An odd but endearing little book from the master of sci-fi.


Phenomenal. Mayor Pete does an excellent job of breaking down a seemingly easy concept like trust and applying to American politics, life, and culture, that makes the reader think hard about how and why we got where we are. As he mentions at the onset - this book isn't a map so much as a signpost and his goal isn't too preach at us - but to make Americans understand how important trust is in each other, in our daily lives, and in our government. He talks about how trust used to be so high, how we lost it (or in some cases never received it), and what we can do to gain it back. Mayor Pete's examples, research, and insight into American trust is astonishing and really makes readers think how different our lives could really be. Fantastic.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

The Wonder Boy of Whistle Stop

A book with no plot may not sound fun - but for fans of "Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe" this book was like catching up with old friends. It takes all the "lose ends" from the previous book and creates new stories for all the surviving characters. Weaving back in forth in time the new stories help flesh out the old and we get to learn more about some of our favorite people. Bud, Peggy, Ruthie, Evelyn Couch, Dot, and more. It is light, funny, and wholesome; it's like coming home. An excellent companion to the first. 

The Black Flamingo

Fierce, fabulous, and inspiring. Written in verse this coming of age teen novel tells of a young boy's journey to acceptance and self love. Michael is mixed raced queer Londoner who has always had an idea of who he is but never felt he truly fit in anywhere. When he goes away to college he discovers the drag society and it's the missing piece of the puzzle. Suddenly things make more sense and Michael has the clarity and the confidence that he aspired to for so long. Moving and honest, this uplifting tale inspires readers to find their own spotlight and revel in it. Fantastic. 

Check, Please: Sticks & Scones

I am not a huge hockey player but I do enjoy that this comic series is about so much more than that. It's about acceptance, finding your people, and making the world a better place. In this second and final installment, Bittle battles with coming out in a big way (to his parents) and struggles with what he will do when he graduates from college. His boyfriend, the big NHL star has a big media moment and things will never be the same again. Will it make them stronger or drive their relationship apart? As always there is lots of backing, keg parties, hockey hazing, and emotions. A fun series and a great finale. 

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Battle Ground

Probably my least favorite of the recent Dresden Files - not because it's bad but it is literally one giant battle scene. The whole book! I get that this is a MAJOR battle the biggest ever - but I've never read such a long continuous fight scene. Plus there is ne aspect of the storyline that I would have liked to see resolved (Thomas), and there is very sad scene (no spoilers here). Dresden was as usual kick ass and his signature brand of dark humor shines through and makes the depressing not so bleak. Obviously I still need answers so I will continue to read any scraps Jim Butcher sends my way. I've been spoiled by two massive installments in one year and I'm scared I'll have to wait years for another!

Monday, December 28, 2020

CatStronauts: Slapdash Science

This installment focuses not only on the CatStronauts but on the crew that's looking out for them on Earth at their station. When the head honcho leaves and puts a new cat in charge - pandemonium breaks out and suddenly no one is working together or at all. When they go on a trust building retreat they leave the station in charge of one scientist cat and robot and that's when the trouble gets even worse. What happens if something goes wrong in space and the CatStronauts need help - will anyone come running or are they all too busy? Fun, nonsensical, and great!

Catstronauts: Robot Rescue

Another adorable installment in the CatStronauts series. This one reminded me of the Martian as the CatStronat team decides to go rogue and rescue one of their own. They steal a ship and go on a month's long journey to rescue their good friend Cat-Stro-Bot, who is trapped in ice. A pretty dramatic ending for a kid's book (which made me love it even more honestly) wraps the whole space pirates chapter for the CatStronauts pretty nicely. This book will teach your kids to buck authority and never leave a man behind!

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Frankie Comics

Cute and relatable - especially for cat owner. Frankie gets into all kinds of feline shenanigans and her two loving owners play along. Jumping on the table, stealing hair ties, puking everywhere, chasing mice, etc. The graphics are good (although it's weird that the cat has no nose or whiskers) but each of the short comic series (they all are 2 to 4 pages long) are only so so. They aren't laugh out loud funny or ground breaking - they are just cute and okay. It's not a collection I'd read again and I would recommend getting this book from the library rather than purchasing it - it's good to read once, but I can't see anyone going back to it.

I Love You, Miss Huddleston

Laugh out loud funny; this memoir about growing up in small town Indiana during the seventies is an absolute blast. Philip Gulley muses about old Quaker widows, the Thanksgiving table, child labor laws, childhood crushes, and occasional streaks of lawlessness. It was a different time back then and Gulley's effortless and amusing narration sucks readers in and keeps them engaged throughout. Peppered throughout are some childhood photos which add some credence and a focal point for his stories. I haven't read such an amusing and outlandish memoir in a while but I literally (LITERALLY) found myself laughing along with the anecdotes and crazy childhood friends he had. A must read and not just for Hoosiers. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

People Like Her

I was anticipating a lot more from this "thriller." I liked the story-building, the descriptions of the influencing business, and the portrait of the family on the brink but the thriller aspect was buried and partially nonsensical. People Like Her shows the ugly side of what really goes on behind the camera in influencer's life and shows the strains in a couple's relationship as they try to manage two young children,  Mamabare's perfect online persona, and her millions of followers. One of their followers seems to be trying to follow a little too closely although her occasional narration doesn't add much to the story other than confusion. The story is told through alternating viewpoints - the wife, husbands, and the creepy stalker lady. It had a lot of potential and it wasn't awful - it just wasn't my favorite either. I wanted a little more drama and excitement at the end I suppose. 

Thursday, December 17, 2020

The River Between Us

I haven't read historical fiction in a while and I really appreciated the brevity of this Civil War novel as well as the story within a story. When a young man goes to visit his grandparents in southern Illinois with his father on the eve of WWI he has no idea what he is about to learn. His family is hiding a wealth of secrets dating all the way back to the Civil War. When his grandmother recounts the summer that her life changed forever - both her grandson and the readers are captivated. Two young women exist a steamboat in a flurry of petticoats and finery and change the little Illinois town forever. No one knows if they are rebel sympathizers or society girls - but one thing is for certain - one of the young woman is black - is she a slave or freed? Because there are no suitable lodgings in town Tilly's mother opens up her house to them and life is never the same again. Interesting story that covers aspects of the war that many are probably unfamiliar with. Two fantastic narrators really make this a story worth listening to!

This Book is Anti-Racist

Not just for kids and teens - this easy to understand no-nonsense guide is fantastic to get adults on board/ up to speed, specifically white adults. Tiffany Jewell does a fantastic job of breaking down key concepts, definitions, and providing activities to help readers understand more deeply the injustices around us. This book is a great first step for those who are looking to be part of the solution and not the problem and it is sure to cause good discussion with peers and internally. Should be required reading for all!

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Punching the Air

This book gets you RILED up - the injustice of it all will have readers angrily turning pages and looking for the hope and beauty in an impossible situation. Written in poetry and prose with art interspersed throughout - Amal's story of how he became incarcerated is powerful and painful. A young Black teen in the wrong place at the wrong time he is now paying the ultimate price. He's unfairly convicted of a crime that he didn't commit and it's hard to keep from drowning in the biased, uninspiring detention facility. Why is the system stacked so hard against him? Will art and poetry save him or will it just drag him down? I would LOVE to discuss this book at a juvenile detention facility - the kids in there would relate so hard to this book. I hope that after covid this book is an option I can bring to the table - their insight and personal experiences would bring so much to the table. A fantastic and powerful book. 

The Cricket in Times Square

Charming and cute - I somehow missed reading this and my youth. Like the title implies this story is about a cricket who ends up in New York City after getting stuck in a picnic basket. A young boy who works at his family's newsstand has never seen a cricket before and rescues a scared and confused Chester Cricket. Chester starts to live a comfortable life at the newsstand and becomes friends with a mouse and a cat. Together the trio get into mischief and discover that Chester is very talented at making music. Soon big crowds begin to go to the newsstand to see cricket who can play symphonies and other musical acts. But what if fame isn't what Chester wants? A sweet story for young readers - a play on the country mouse/ city mouse trope. Lots of fun!

Black Narcissus

Brooding and gothic; this tale of culture and religion clashing in the mountains of India is unique and compelling. The General has gifted his remote palace to the Sisters of Mary after it was mysteriously vacated by monks after only six months. At first the sisters were delighted, it was odd, yes; but beautiful too and filled them all with the anticipation of work and good deeds. They aim to open a hospital and school for the villagers but a lot of the work is out of their reach - they must rely on one of the few English speaking residents, Mr. Dean to help them with the labor. He's unconventional, uncouth, and has "gone native." He sees firsthand the remarkable transformation of the nuns - the chilling and haunting palace may be too much for the sisters - but what will it take for them to admit defeat? 

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

A Christmas Haven

I was hoping that Christmas would be more of a central theme and honestly Christmas didn't play into the story at all. Most of the novel takes place in summer and fall. Ivy Zook has decided that she is going to leave the Amish in order to pursue her dream of party planning. Her mother is devastated and begs her to wit a few months so as not to cause a scandal and ruin her sister's wedding and Ivy reluctantly agrees. When a Swartzentruber Amish man and pregnant woman crash a car into the storefront where Ivy's sister works her mother agrees to take in the young couple until the girl gets better. Things get even more complicated when they learn the circumstances that the two Swartzentruber are fleeing from. Ivy's problems suddenly don't seem so big - but she's still not willing to let anything get in the way of her following her heart. Again - pretty ok - was just in the mood for a holiday read. 

You Should See Me in a Crown

Loved, loved, loved this! Leah Johnson does a fantastic job of bundling hard issues into a fluffy ridiculous event and the result is a readable, heartfelt, and impactful story that isn't too on the nose or too depressing for teens. Liz Lighty is devastated when she finds out she didn't get the expected scholarship to go to college. She doesn't want her grandparents to worry about money so she decides in an act of desperation to enter her high school's prom competition - the winner receives a 10kk scholarship. Liz has always been more of a wallflower - she has her small group of friends - but it's hard being black and queer in Indiana. How on earth will she win that crown?! Humorous, smart, and brave - everyone needs a friend like Liz Lighty - a fantastic teen read about acceptance, courage, staying true to yourself, and doing the right thing in the face of adversity. 

Monday, December 14, 2020

Spoiler Alert

Cute, nerdy, and unique. I loved this unconventional romance that centered on a game of thrones-esque fanfic community. April writes steamy fanfics featuring Aneas and Lavinia from the world famous show, Gods of the Gates. Her best friend is another fanfic writer but she's never met him in real life. If she only knew that her best friend is actually the star of Gods of the Gates and writes fanfics because he is sick of how the shows producers keep bastardizing the material. What would happen if they met up? Would steamy Marcus Caster-Rupp be attracted to April despite her size (she's fat and proud of her body) and would she be able to get past his looks and see the insecure man behind his beautifully sculpted body? A romance that deals with trust issues, self-worth, parental troubles, fat-shaming, erotica, and the fanfic community. Lots of fun and very original. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Christmas on the Island

I keep trying to like Jenny Colgan and I keep being underwhelmed by her work. I've been trying to find short holiday audiobooks and this sounded perfect - unfortunately it was only loosely holiday tied and  far too serious for my taste. I was hoping for a little more fluff. Christmas on the Island centered around a cast of characters each of whom is going through some pretty serious shit. Flora has discovered she's pregnant and is unsure how to tell her boyfriend Joel, he's got a troubled past and he might think she's trying to "trap him." Flora's best friend Lorna, the elementary school teacher, falls for the island's immigrant doctor, Saif. Unfortunately, even though he has feelings for her in return - he is still concerned that his missing wife might miraculously turn up from his war torn country after years of looking for her. Flora's brother Fenton, is watching his husband slowly be ravaged by cancer and it's only a matter of time before he dies. So yeah - serious shit is happening on this Scottish island. There are some light moments - but it's not all uplifting and cozy. The best part about this audiobook is that it is wonderfully narrated by a woman with a Scottish accent.

Monday, December 7, 2020

Troubled Blood

First off, obligatory disclaimer that I do not endorse JK Rowling and her transphobic views. I am eliminating the author from this book series (as I have with Alexi, Diaz, Carroll, and others) and appreciating the story for the story. Personally I think this is my favorite in the series. Which says a lot as this dense book is over NINE HUNDRED PAGES! I've been all in on Cormoran Strike since the first book in the series and I love him even more now. I love that Robin is his full fledged partner and I love that beneath their mutual respect is simmering slow burn attraction (kiss already!). For the first time ever they decide to take on a cold case about a woman who disappeared more than thirty years prior and what they have to go on isn't much. Everyone assumes the Essex Butcher murdered her along with others but there has never been any proof. When Strike and Robin finally get their hands on the police notes they're horrified by the state of the case. It was mishandled from the beginning and the officer in charge back in the day suffered a neurotic break in the middle of it - attributing suspects to black magic and astrology. On top of that Strike's aunt, the woman who raised him, is slowly dying and Robin's ex-husband is determined to draw out the divorce proceedings. They have their hands full. So many layers and twists and turns - I didn't see the end coming. Fantastic detective novel!!