Friday, September 17, 2021

Scythe

 


Holy cow! I've heard this book get hype, mostly from my teens, but I didn't realize how right they were until I finally plunged in! This book is fantastic! The concept is insanely unique, and the whole story is inventive and over the top amazing! In a world where humans have finally overcome disease, old age, war, and injuries there is nothing left to fear or learn. People can reset their clock and be younger, they can also reset their nannites to have higher metabolism, adjust hormones, depression, and other maladies. They can even be brought back to life from extreme accidents. There is nothing to fear, except for the scythe. Since humanity has overcome every obstacle, the only problem now is overpopulation. The scythe are tasked with random killings to keep the world in balance; they are a terrible necessity. Two teens are about to get real intimate with the dark side of humanity when a scythe has chosen them to become his apprentices. They must learn the best ways to "glean" (killing is a dirty word), and how to do so with humanity and humility. A wonderfully different book. My review will not do it justice!

Thursday, September 16, 2021

The Secret Keepers of Old Depot Grocery


When Sarah Ashby returns to her hometown she is a broken woman. Her husband has recently died and she is seeking some stability in her life. Sarah thinks working in her family's grocery store and being near her mother and grandmother can provide that. Her mother is excited to see her daughter but is aghast that she wants to start over back in her hometown - she needs a fresh start and to get far away from the tiny town and failing grocery store. However, Sarah insists on working with her family in the Old Depot Grocery - it has so many good memories for her! Told in alternating storylines from the present day with Sarah to the mid-sixties with Glory Ann (grandmother) finding out she is pregnant and her fiancĂ© is never coming back from Vietnam. The Secret Keepers of Old Depot Grocery is really about the ups and downs of mother daughter relationships and the power that secrets can have when they are allowed to fester for to long. Inspiring and heartfelt. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Daughters of Sparta


Wonderful and frustrating - this well told story of two sisters separated by marriage will infuriate and entertain readers. It's a man's world and Helen and Klytemnestra are just pawns in lives that are out of their control. They could have it worse, but they are both princesses (soon to be queens) rather than slaves or servants so they have more freedom than any other women. Unfortunately, there is still a high cost they have no control over the actions that their powerful, and often times uncaring, husbands take. Claire Heywood does a masterful story spinning the "true" version of Helen of Troy's legend and brings to life her often overlooked sister. A fantastic retelling of the classic Greek myth. 

Monday, September 13, 2021

Lady Whistledown Strikes Back


While fun - I just wasn't as invested in this short story collection centering around Lady Whistledown and the mystery behind who stole Lady Neeley's ruby bracelet. Four different romance novellas all take place around the same two week span and some of the characters even interact with each other. Four different romance writers write in the style of Julia Quinn and give us four more romances in the Bridgerton world. The four romance novellas were ok, but nothing to write home about and I'm not sure if I will ever read it again. Not horrible - just not as good as the Bridgerton saga - I respect what these ladies were trying to do though.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

The Final Girl Support Group


Good gory fun - I am never disappointed in Grady Hendrix! I really liked the premise of this novel - a bunch of final girls meet monthly with their counselor to talk about their struggles. If you're wondering what a final girl is - it's the last girl standing after a massacre or mass murderer - usually the smartest and most resourceful girl who takes matters into her own hands and ends up killing the killer. After one of their members doesn't show for a meeting, Lynette Tarkington is on high alert. She is sure that someone is targeting the final girls. What's next is a wild ride with lost of twists and turns and wrong guesses. I especially enjoyed learning about the backstories of each of the final girls as the story progressed. Gory and great. 

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Such a Fun Age


I wanted to like this book more, but I genuinely couldn't stand some of the characters - which I get is the point of the book - so that's more on me than the author. Emira is a 25 year old who doesn't quite know what she wants in life. She's stuck babysitting and typing and trying to scrape up enough money to party with her girlfriends. When Mrs. Chamberlain, her white employer, calls her late one night for an emergency session, Emira leaves the club and agrees to take their toddler to the local grocery store to kill some time. While they are walking around the high end grocery store looking at all the nuts and fruits and things that toddlers love, a security guard stops them, convinced that Emira is kidnapping a white child. The whole uncomfortable experience is recorded on a do gooder's phone who wants Emira to release it and get the racist security fired. Told alternately between Emira and Mrs. Chamberlain - this story is about fresh chances, growing up, and "doing the right thing." It's also a piercing commentary of white saviors and duplicity. 

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

A Christmas in the Alps


Melody Carlson Christmas books are always short and sweet, with minimal conflict or drama. A Christmas in the Alps is the story of a young girl who decides to sell her grandmother's house and use the money to travel to the French Alps to look for treasure. After her grandmother's death, Simone Winthrop realizes she has no family left, she can have a fresh start. While she's cleaning out the house her grandmother left her, Simone's best friend discovers an un-opened letter to Simone from her great-grandmother. In it she mentions treasure and her hometown in the Alps. With nothing holding her back and at her friend's extreme encouragement, Simone takes a leap of faith and decides to spend Christmas in the Alps. What she doesn't expect to find is family, romance, and a new take on life - but her great grandmother really delivers on the "treasure" that can be found if one is really looking for it. Very sweet, would make a good Hallmark Christmas movie. 

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

The Further Observations of Lady Whistledown


A fun little romp that is a delightful addition to the Bridgerton universe. Although none of the stories center on the Bridgerton clan they do occasionally pop up at balls and of course the beloved (and reviled) Lady Whistledown is there to record everything. All four short stories take place over the same span of a few weeks during winter. The Thames has frozen over and no one can remember a better winter social season; Valentines Balls, skating parties, resplendent plays, and more are on the calendar. Four unsuspecting ladies and four rakes will find themselves thrown together this season for some hot steamy fun. Not bad, but not memorable - a nice fluffy read to sate the appetites of Bridgerton lovers. 

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Dark Waters


Super enjoyable! I absolutely love this middle grade series. It's genuinely dark and creepy and I adore the characters. The third installment in the Small Spaces series is set in the spring and they are about to face a whole new nightmare. The kids know that the smiling man is still out there, the only question is - when is he going to strike next? When the adults are gone, the power turns off and someone starts pounding on the door. Whoever it was, left a black dot and a cryptic note. It's up to Ollie, Coco, and Brian to get to the bottom of it before IT gets to the bottom of then. In the meantime they have a happy distraction, Coco's mom is going to take them on a boat tour of Lake Champlain for a news story about Vermont's very own "loch ness monster," Champ. Very quickly this trip turns creepy and they wonder if the black dot and cryptic note have something to do with a real monster or a mysterious island that just popped up. A nice little twist at the end of this one - I can't wait for the next installment! 

Last Letter from Your Lover


I'm not one for affairs, but this romance story still sucked me in. Alternating between the sixties and the early 2000s; The Last Letter From Your Lover, is about a love letter uncovered in an archive and the journey to discover the origins. The letter is asking his lover to run away with him and Ellie has to know how it turned out. Did she leave her husband and live happily ever after? Ellie is a journalist obsessed with knowing more because she is currently in the middle of an affair herself. Is there hope for her? The origins of the letter are more twisted then she even realized, the woman to whom the letter was addressed was involved in a car accident and forget everything. Her husband, the affair, all of it. That is until she uncovers some letters in a dresser drawer. She was having an affair!? Interesting and engaging; an overall enjoyable story, saving for the adultery. 

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Blood and Honey


I wanted to like this one so much more than I did. I thoroughly enjoyed the first one but reading the follow up was not enjoyable. It was a painful slog and I stopped caring what happened to any of the characters. Lou is losing her mind, Reid is an insufferable "gentleman," and out of her merry little group of friends you know exactly who is going to die in the end (it is painfully obvious). I read the first one in a day and this one took me a week. I just couldn't get into it. I'll eventually read the third one because I really did love the first one a ton - but I'm in no rush. In fact, I think I need a break from this series for a while. 

Monday, August 30, 2021

The Fault in Our Stars


If I could give this book more than 5 stars I totally would. Holy hell it was fabulous. So amazing in fact that I almost became enraged at my grandmother for interupting my reading so I could get her some much needed groceries. I did not want to put it down, I read it in 1 day. Spoiler alert, this book will make you have emotions. You will care for these characters more than any others you've read in a long long time. And you will cry, if you don't it's possible you have no soul. I sobbed/bawled my way through the last 50 pages. My eyes were on fire (thanks mascara), my hair was soggy, and I'm pretty sure I was the epitome of beauty (not!). This book made me FEEL and I haven't had a book do that in a while. I literally cannot stop thinking about this book, it's just too good. I will attempt to decribe this book without giving too much away or making it sound depressing. The story follows Hazel, a sixteen year old girl with terminal cancer. Her best friends are her parents and she hasrelaxed into a routine that involves not doing much of anything. Her parents desperate to get her out of the house make her go to a cancer support group for kids and it is there that she meets Augustus. Augustus is in remission but his battle made him lose a leg. He doesn't dwell on it though, he uses his charm (and good looks) to befriend Hazel. In no time at all they're inseperable, they read the same books, help their friend Isaac get through the loss of his eyesight, and try to make the best out of being sick. I think I enjoyed this book so much because it isn't about the poor sick little cancer kid that needs to be pitied, this is the other side if the story, this is what it is really like for these kids living with cancer. They don't need to be pitied, they need to be understood. Again, this is a must read. It is without a doubt added to my list of all time favorites and I cannot wait to read his other works.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Yoga Pant Nation


Another hilarious installment in the Class Mom series. I hope I am this cool if I ever have kids. My only complaint is that this one felt really short - maybe I was just thirsting for more - who knows. Yoga Pant Nation picks up for Max's 5th grade year and his last one at his beloved elementary school. Besides being class mom (again), Jen Dixon has also been tasked with leading the fundraising committee and needs to raise $10k by the end of the year. As if that isn't enough she is babysitting her granddaughter 3 days a week, teaching spin classes, and worrying over her parents who have seemed to aged very quickly. Lots of fun and quick humor. I love this series and can't wait for the fourth installment!

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Seed to Dust


Part memoir, part philosophy, part gardening guide; Seed to Dust is one mans look at a garden over the course of one year. From the relative ease of the winter to the pandemonium of the spring - Marc Hamer ponders flowers, bugs, animal, weather, and many other things that are not just relegated to the garden. Marc works for a wealthy old widow and revels in working all the acres of her property. Gardens like hers are going by the wayside so Marc relishes every minute pruning, weeding, planting, and mowing for Miss Cashmere. He has the freedom to plant what he likes and create organized chaos in the dahlias or shrubbery. Marc is a Welsh gardener who knows how to wax poetic about nearly any aspect of the garden - even the tedious backbreaking things. Reading this book is like seeing a garden through your eyes for the first time. It's a wonderful experience. A must read for any gardener or nature lover! 

Monday, August 23, 2021

The Heart Principle


Adorable and heartfelt - this book may be my favorite Helen Hoang book yet! Anna Sun is a violinist who can't stop playing in circles. After her quick rise to fame - she's realized that she needs to be perfect all the time and it's led to crippling anxiety and an inability to get through one of her pieces. She takes a leave of absence from the symphony and holes herself up in her apartment. The only two things that make her get out of her apartment and out of her head are her therapist and her boyfriend. When her boyfriend decides that he wants to be in an open relationship so he can be sure that Anna is the one he really wants to settle down with, Anna gets justifiably angry. She gets on a dating app which is how she meets Quan. They are both just looking for a one night stand - Anna to see what it's like and to get back at her boyfriend and Quan to prove that he can still have sex after a horrible bout with cancer. What neither of them expect is to actually fall for each other. They each have baggage but sometimes the best thing in life is to have a travel partner to help you carry the load. An eye opening look at Autism, family expectations, and new chances. 

Friday, August 20, 2021

Read it and Weep


The Briar Creek  Community Theater is getting ready to put on a production of A Midsummer's Night Dream directed by former Broadway actress Violet La Rue and Hollywood legend, Robbie Vine, is going to be starring as Puck. The small town is abuzz with excitement but things start going south pretty quickly. Library Director, Lindsey Norris, is on hand to help with costuming and it looks like soon she's going to be helping to do some research. Someone doesn't want the play to go on and someone in the cast is poisoned - how can the play go on? Predictable, over written, and the love triangle is beyond stupid. Okay fluff, but I'm not sure that I would read anymore in this series. 

Eat Joy


Every story and accompanying recipe was a breath of fresh air and touched not only my heart, but my stomach. Every writer had a way with words and wrote a biographical story that centered on food that had an impact on some aspect of their lives. At the end of the story the recipe is included. The recipes range from complicated to simple - something for every occasion. Broken into four parts: growing pains, loss, healing, and homecoming - famous, well respected, and award winning authors share stories that will stick with readers. A great gift for any foodie in your life. I plan on storing this with my cookbooks and trying out some of the recipes - a fantastic collection! 

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Under the Bayou Moon


Ellie Fields is unsatisfied with her life in Alabama so she listens to her heart and takes a teaching job in a tiny bayou town in sleepy Louisiana. She immediately falls in love with the wilderness and the people. The Cajun residents are initially weary of the newcomer because in the past the teachers have used any means necessary to snuff out French speaking between the students. Ellie has to work hard to win over the locals, but once she does the reward is worth it. These humble swamp people are just trying to hold onto their culture and heritage in a country that's trying to assimilate - Ellie helps them realize that she is not the enemy and that she respects and loves their traditions. She is especially smitten with the legend of the white alligator and loves the local food. While adjusting to life in the bayou, Ellie starts to take a shine to Raphe and his nephew Remy as they are some of the first residents to welcome her. Soon they are inseparable. Ellie has more than gotten her fresh start - but soon a greedy man will threaten the community that she has grown to love. Wonderful inspirational historical fiction. Fans of Where the Crawdads Sing will also like this tamer inspirational read. 

The Less People Know About Us


I wish I had not tuned into this author's library program until AFTER I had read the book because she told us all about it and revealed who stole her identity. Had I read it first I am sure I would have been way more shocked - but as I read this memoir I knew what was coming. When Axton was a child her parents had their identity stolen and it made them fearful of everyone - who was doing this to them, why were checks bouncing and utilities getting cut off. It led for a lonely childhood. When she finally flew the coop and left for college, Axton was excited to leave the fear behind her and start the next chapter of her life, but unfortunately when she goes to get her own apartment she discovers that her credit is in the bottom 2% - it's beyond horrible. It turns out it wasn't just her parents with stolen identities - her had been too. Credit cards taken out in her name when she was just a child, the whole gambit. Axton makes it her mission to get to the bottom of it but sometimes the answers are worse than the problems. Heartbreaking - what a messed up little family.   

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Once There Were Wolves


Once I got into this book I was invested - but it took a minute for me to actually come around. This is a tough book if you are sensitive to domestic violence and animal cruelty because there is plenty of both to be found in the pages. I hope I didn't completely deter you though because this book is both fascinating and complex. It's a book I won't be able to stop thinking about and it made me think about wolves in an entirely new way. Inti and her twin sister, Aggie, arrive in Scotland to release wolves into the forests for the first time in hundreds of years. The Highlands have been empty of the gray predators for hundreds of years - but Inti and her team of scientists have great hope that this will restore the dying landscape. Inti and Aggie are fleeing trauma of their own having fled from Alaska - can the wolves heal them and the Scottish people? Or is it bound to be a bloody affair with mangled bodies and spirits. Lyrical, dark, and haunting. Get through the initial slog and it's well worth the journey. 

Monday, August 16, 2021

The Secret History of Food


Siegel, Matt. The Secret History of Food. digital. 2021. HarperAudio. $20.99. ISBN 9780062973238. 

Foodies and trivia lovers will eat up this irreverent and fascinating book about the origins, misconceptions, science, and subculture behind certain foods and spices. Author, Matt Siegel, digs deep to uncover weirdly entertaining facts about food that will leave readers both fascinated and moderately disgusted. From the origins of a well known cereal, to mummified heads in honey, to the most expensive and exotic spice in the world being used to describe boring sex lives; The Secret History of Food has something in it for everyone. Over the course of ten chapters, Siegel spills the beans on so many different "common" foods, that walking into the grocery store or showing up at a potluck with your favorite dish will never be the same again. Brilliantly read by Roger Wayne who effuses energy and hilarity into his narration. A feast for the mind. - Erin Cataldi, Johnson Co. Public Library, Franklin, IN

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Billy Summers


Stephen King is really bringing the heat on his non-horror books and I am here for it! Billy Summers is about a hired gun who only kills bad guys. It's a thriller with a meaty back story and great character development. Once readers get invested it is impossible to put the book down. Billy Summers has just taken a long job. He's to scope out a sleepy little city and fool everyone into believing that he's a writer just looking to finish his book before the deadline. In reality he's one of the best snipers in the world, a former marine who take jobs only if he's sure the person he's killing is really bad. Joel Allen is a bad man, and once he's taken from the jail to the courthouse for his arraignment, Billy will take the shot. He's promised himself that this is his last kill and the payout from this will be big enough that he can retire. What he doesn't know is the big picture. Nothing is going to go down the way he thinks it will and that will cause wrinkles. The only "beef" I had with the story is the character Alice, a loner with absolutely no friends and no close ties to family? Hard to believe - especially the way she is around Billy. It made it easier for the story but it wasn't remotely realistic. Overall though - great storytelling - another great Stephen King novel. 

Monday, August 9, 2021

Broken


I've listened to all of Jenny Lawson's books on audio and I don't want to read her books any other way. I love her narration and I love that her voice exudes honesty, vulnerability, and laughter. Per usual, Jenny Lawson is able to reveal her struggles, fears, uncertainties, broken bits and all, to help readers understand that they are not alone. Equal parts memoir, self help, and humor - this look inside of Jenny Lawson's mind is candid and revealing. She can go from the funniest story to the saddest  - but readers won't be able to stop listening. Everyone can find something to relate in and if everyone could talk about mental health the way that Jenny Lawson does the world would be a much better place.  

The Plot


While the start was slow, the unease picked up steam throughout the book leading to a chilling (and somehow satisfying?) ending. When a once successful and now thoroughly down on his luck author finds himself teaching a creative writing course - he can't be bothered. He knows what trash his students will come up with and he normally wouldn't be bothered but he needs the money. After his first book's moderate success, Jacob Finch Bonner, failed to produce anything noteworthy and his era as an author seems to be over. When a rude and pretentious student shares the plot of a novel he's working on though - Jacob is hooked. This kid isn't bluffing the plot is new and different and only an idiot could mess up the story of it. When Jacob finds out years later that his student died, he immediately looks for the story - did he ever publish it? Jacob decides that a good plot can't die so he writes the story and "borrows" the genius plot. As he predicted the book throws him into the spotlight and suddenly he's one of the most famous authors in America. Oprah made it her book club choice, Spielberg is directing the movie, the money keeps pouring in. He has everything he ever wanted, but why isn't he happy? The more famous Jacob gets, the more nervous he becomes. What happens if people discover he's a fraud? But there is no way that anyone could know... could they? Suspenseful and intriguing. A great books about writers, the literary arts, and deceit. 

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Isn't it Bromantic?


I really enjoyed getting to learn the Russian's mysterious backstory - and I thought it was a realistic romance with some big miscommunication. It was a little over the top in some areas, but on the whole I enjoyed the storyline. Instead of the Bromance Book Club reading a bodice ripper - they are instead reading Vlad's manuscript. He's been writing a romance novel in secret and they are going to help him finish his book AND fix his marriage to the elusive Elena. Elena hasn't been seen since the wedding as she's been in Chicago working on getting college degrees. When Vlad gets injured during a hockey game she comes back to care for him out of a sense of duty and obligation. He is after all her husband. But what if they could have a real marriage instead of the sham one they are both in. Cheesy and cute. Good fluff. I hope there are more in the series!

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Sword Stone Table


Reading this collection of Arthurian re-tellings makes me want to go back and read the old stories anew! This anthology contains new takes on old tales, modern takes, and even some futuristic takes. Every single story was unique and different, although some were much stronger than others. The stories focus on different characters from the Arthurian legends and played around with them in fun new ways. From a vengeful baseball player to a barista falling in love with Lance to the Lady of Shallot taking illegal memories like drugs in a futuristic city - the span and scope was impressive. About half of the tales failed to draw me in but the ones that I loved, I LOVED. I only recognized a handful of authors, but that didn't matter to me. Pardon me while I go dig out The Mists of Avalon from under my bed. 

Saturday, July 31, 2021

The Great Alone


Worth. The. Hype. Honestly, I liked this even better than Kristin Hannah's, "The Nightingale," and that book was a masterpiece! I zipped through this one, unable to put it down. It was gripping from the beginning and I know that this is a book I will return to. Set in the remote Alaskan wilderness, this coming of age story features a young girl trying to navigate her parent's stormy relationship and make friends of her own (a hard task when there are only about 30 people in town). Leni's father came back from Vietnam a changed man, prone to violent outbursts, restlessness, and crazy ideas. When his buddy from Vietnam wills him a cabin up in Alaska, he packs his family into their VW van and moves them across county into the great alone. They are woefully under-prepared for their first winter and that summer the townsfolk comes together to help out the newcomers. Little does Leni's family realize how long the winters are and how short daylight is; Leni's father mood shifts ever darker. Despite the darkness in her father their is beauty everywhere: in their new neighbors, the rugged wilderness, the value of hard work and borrowed books. Beautifully written; this love letter to Alaska will resonate with readers and have readers rooting for Leni. Tears may fall, dreams may be born, anything is possible.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

I Know You Rider


This isn't a low score because this memoir is about abortion - it's just that it wasn't as deep or moving as I thought it might be. It just kinda slogged along with no clear direction. I love memoirs that are told via graphic novel so I picked up I Know You Rider and had high hopes. It was very slow paced and the illustrations sometimes made it confusing to tell who was who and I just didn't click with the story. It's brave to put your story out there like the author did - especially about such a polarizing topic - but it was just hard to engage or care about the story. Which I feel bad about because it's a memoir. I would love to try out more graphic novels by this author - this one just wasn't it for me. 

Nine Perfect Strangers


This Liane Moriarity book is so over the top and outrageous but you can't put it down. Even though the plot got more and more ridiculous as the story progressed, I LOVED the characters. Nine people decide that they are stressed and need a lifestyle change, so they sign up for a ten day cleanse at Tranquility House. It's a gorgeous estate in the middle of nowhere and participants will be treated to divine meals, massages, nature hikes, star-gazing, and meditation. The nine participants (all strangers) soon discover that there was a lot on the agenda that they most certainly had not signed up for. Silence, daily blood tests, fasting, and more unorthodox methods keep popping up. Soon the strangers kind of bond together as they try to get through their weird cleanse in one piece. There is a romance author who will soon be out of work, an ex football player, a family trying to cope with loss, a mom trying to rediscover herself after her husband took off with a new trophy wife, a young couple in dire need of counseling, and a devilishly handsome gay lawyer. Full of fun, a nice beach read.

A Bad Day for Sunshine


Sunshine Vikram has moved back to her childhood hometown with her daughter in tow. She just recently won an election for sheriff even though she never threw her name in the race. Sun has her parents to thank for that and for the new "guesthouse" they built for her and her daughter. Her parents are devious and the peer pressure is real. Sun loves working in law enforcement but there is a lot of bad history in Del Sol so she is nervous to come back. Thankfully her best friend works in the police department so she's surrounded by friendly faces. Unfortunately, on her first day on the job all hell breaks loose. A teenage girl goes missing, a woman crashes her car, a prized rooster goes missing, and Ari's first day in her new high school is awful. What more can go wrong? A little over the top, funny at times, and lots of tangled threads. I'm not sure if I will continue the series but it was ok. 

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Sisters in Arms


I love reading books that educate me on real history, especially history that I never learned in school. Sisters in Arms is a fictional account of two young Black women who join the Six Triple Eight, the only all-Black battalion of the Women’s Army Corp during World War ! Not only do Grace and Eliza have to face prejudice from the white soldiers they are stationed with they have to face harsh criticism from their families. Grace is a piano prodigy but after she fails her Juilliard audition and her brother dies in battle - she needs to escape from her overbearing mother. Eliza wants her own byline and is sick of covering the society beat at her father's newspaper - she knows she can do more with her life. Joining the first unit of Black WAAC allows these two women to prove to themselves and the world that they are capable and that they are worthy. Sisters in Arms is the story of their friendship, their trials and tribulations, and the prejudice they faced. Wonderful storytelling. 

Monday, July 26, 2021

Survive the Night


When the campus killer's third victim is Charlie's roommate - she's decided she's had enough of college life. She can't finish the week, let alone the semester. Since her parent's untimely death Charlie has refused to drive so she needs to find a ride back home to Ohio. It's 1991 and public transportation leaves a lot to be desired so she decides to rely on the ride share board. Josh Baxter, a slightly older and nice looking guy, offers to drive her home if she splits the gas money. Easy peasy. She tells herself that the second she smells something fishy she'll bail - but he seems like a nice guy. As they begin their evening drive home, Charlie immediately gets suspicious - he's starting to lie about things. Or is he? Charlie has an over active imagination and sometimes the lines between reality and her mind get blurred. Can she trust him or will she even survive the night. Fast paced and suspenseful. Fun, but not even close to Riley Sager's best work. I even guessed one of the twists which was disappointing. 

Whispers and the Roars


A fast paced and dark romance that explores mental health, abuse, trust, and love. Twelve years ago Kady sent away the one boy she loved more than life itself. She didn't want her sickness oozing all over him and she wanted him to escape to college and a new life. But now he's back and she's not sure if she can afford to let him back into her life. What if it's too painful? What if he's horrified of the woman that she's become? Yeo looks past all that - he dedicated his twelve years in medical school to her and will do whatever it takes to win her back. He doesn't care about his family's low opinion of her, or the rumors around town, or the weird looks she gets. Kady is worth all that and more. Her past is dark and twisted and getting her re-adjusted to the light is going to be difficult. A BIG twist towards the end that explains soo much. Dark, twisty, and redeeming.

The Startup Wife


Interesting and timely concept. When a young couple and their best friend decide to create a platform for people to create their own rituals - essentially replacing religion. It's an uphill battle but from the start they get some really committed people who are sold on the idea. As it finally gains steam it threatens to become the most popular social media platform in the world. But at what cost? Asha's husband, the face of the company, is viewed as a Messiah while Asha is regularly overlooked or forgotten. The more successful they become the more passionate they become about their vision and their company - everything is going better than they ever could have imagined. Or is it? I didn't love any of the characters although I thought the app was intriguing and ridiculous. Neat concept, but I wouldn't read the book again. 

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

The Soulmate Equation


Quick and adorable - no one writes romantic fluff like Christina Lauren. When two polar opposites are matched together using DNA technology they can't believe it. Is the science wrong? Unfortunately for them it's not, GeneticAlly gave them the highest recorded score EVER - a 98! In the history of the company they've only gotten three other matches over 90 - and to think that the founder and lead scientist of the company is one the matches. What are the odds? River is willing to go on a few dates to experience first hand if the science is true, but single mom, Jess, is less sure. The company offers to give her a stipend each month to go on dates with River and give a relationship a shot - but she's not even sure if she even wants a relationship. Jess has her kid to think about, but really she's just a chicken. Will the science prove true - are they a match? Or is this all just a publicity stunt. Charming, steamy, and funny. A great romcom!

Monday, July 19, 2021

That Summer


Not as light and fluffy as I was hoping it would be (I can't believe I just said that!) but still a good beach read. That Summer centers on two Dianas - one who is struggling in her marriage and connecting to her fourteen year old daughter - the other who has a secret that could tear everything apart. When Daisy (real name Diana) keeps getting wrong emails intended for another Diana - she strikes up an email conversation with her email doppelganger. Since they aren't that far apart - they decide to meet up for drinks in New York City and strike up an instant friendship. It's so natural and easy going - both women have a hard time making friends and it's such a coincidence that they've found each other. But is it? Told alternately between both women's pasts - That Summer is a look at female friendships, duplicity, passion, and intrigue. The twist isn't super shocking if you're used to reading between the lines - but it is compulsively readable. Very timely. 

Friday, July 16, 2021

An Amish Surprise


The second book in the Berlin Bookmobile series is just as charming as the first. The only constant that carries over from book one is the librarian, Sarah Anne Miller. She starts to fall for one of her library patrons and agrees to go on a date with him - she hasn't been on the dating scene since before she was married and she's very nervous. Some of her library patrons are also having some difficulties. Miriam and Calvin have tried for years to have a baby and it's taking a toll on their young marriage. When Calvin strikes up a friendship with a ten year old foster kid he starts dreaming of growing their family through adoption, but he knows that his wife isn't on the same page. What will it take to make her see the situation differently?  And what about poor Miles, he's been a foster kid for so many years - will he ever have anything to look forward to? Charming and predictable. Nice clean fluff. 

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Summer Spirit


Great illustrations - I just didn't care for this coming of age story. Four cousins stay with their grandma every summer at the beach. This summer however, Louise realizes that her older sister and two cousins are really growing up without her. She's the youngest of the group and everyone seemed to have matured and grown into moody teenagers but her. She's essentially on her own as the older three go about flirting with boys and sneaking out. Her grandma is nice and sweet but she keeps forgetting things - did she already feed the dog? - why is she punishing the older three girls (spoiler she caught them sneaking out)? - did she change the calendar yet? Between her grandmother's forgetfulness, and disdain from the older three girls, Louise feels alone - that is until she meets the ghost of her grandma's dead sister. Suddenly the summer just got a lot more exciting. Just very meh to me. 

Poison Flowers and Pandemonium


The illustrations are fantastic - they jump off the page and are so effortlessly retro and vintage looking. The storyline however... is just ok. Poison Flowers and Pandemonium is a graphic novel omnibus that contains the following stories: The Bloody Cardinal 2: House of the Blue Dwarf, Monsters Illustrated, Cave Girls of the Lost World, and Fantomella. I've never read any of the work by Richard Sala so I was unfamiliar with the the Bloody Cardinal not having read the first one. Honestly that one is a bit jumbled and nonsensical and is my least favorite in this collection. Monsters Illustrated is cool - it's a bunch of pinups and monsters - many of them I'd like to have hanging. Cave Girls of the Lost World was fun and ridiculous - it seemed as if it was written by a middle school boy that like boobs and dinosaurs. Fantomella was short and sweet with a cool ending. I would definitely read more by this illustrator - supremely unique. 

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

A Minute to Think


It may sound revolutionary - but the more you work and fill up all your free time with activities, planning, and to do items - the LESS efficient you are at work and at home. We've become so programmed to hit the ground running the moment we wake up that we stop taking time for ourselves. The burnout and overwork is palpable. We make ourselves available by email all day, we feel guilty whenever we see blank space on the calendar so we fill it, we don't like to say no so we inconvenience ourselves - the list is endless. Juliet Funt examines how introducing little white spaces on our work and social calendars can actually make us do our best work and make us feel better. Doing nothing, even if just for 2 or 5 minutes can help us re-orient ourselves and grab a breather. It can help our brains take a break before we switch to the next task. It doesn't need to be hours long, but we need small pauses throughout our day. Broken into three parts this leadership/self-help book covers the culture of insatiability, the white space way, and applying the principles. At the end of every chapter there is a brief bullet proof summary that is great for when you want to go back and look at a bite size chunk at the ideas in the book. Easy to read and understand - change doesn't have to start with management - it can start with you. I can't wait to start small and start adopting ideas from this book into my private and work life. A must read in a crazy busy digital age.  

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

The Miner's Lament


Very reminiscent of the Dear America Diary series - this book (which is part of the "I Am America" series) follows a young girl who wants to be involved in her father's strike against the Empire Zinc Mine. Ana Maria's mother died following an infection and ever since - she has blamed the Empire Zinc Mine because if they had indoor plumbing and hot water her mom might still be alive. It's the fifties for goodness sake - they're living like settlers, all because they are Mexican American and perceived as "less than." Even Ana Maria's father sees her as less than. Since she's a girl, she can't strike - she can only cook and clean. Since she's a girl she can't become a corridista (a singer of Mexican ballads) even though she can sing and play the vihuela beautifully. She's out to show them that even a girl in fifth grade can make a difference. Inspiring and educational. All though the characters in this story are fictionalized it is based on real events. There are also some accompanying illustrations that enhance the story. Great book - I would like to read more in this series! 

Monday, July 12, 2021

On the Way to the Wedding


Honestly one of my least favorite in the series. I didn't love the premise and also... it's so hard to imagine a love story with the younger siblings. They are still little kids to me! Anyways - the last installment of the series focuses on Gregory - the last unmarried of the eight Bridgerton kids. He is in no rush to be married or choose a profession but unexpectedly he falls madly in love with the back of a woman's neck at a ball. It was as if he was struck by a thunderbolt - Hermoine is the most beautiful and dazzling person he's ever met. He's POSITIVE that she is the one. Hermoine is not remotely interested in Gregory any of the other boys that fawn all over her - she is in love with another - and her best friend, Lady Lucinda has to step in and warn him off. Instead of deterring him it makes him only more determined to win Hermoine's heart. Why can't he see what's right in front of her? Some twists and turns at the end. Just a so so installment. Now I'm on to the prequels!

Thursday, July 8, 2021

A Single Thread


Beautifully narrated - I couldn't get enough of this story about a woman in her thirties desperate to forge her own path. At 38 Violet sees her future laid out before her - stuck in her childhood home in a quaint English village, taking care of her mother - it makes her shudder. Her mother is a miserable old wretch and does nothing but complain (seriously she's the worst) so Violet decides to put in a request for a work transfer. She moves out into a small apartment of her own and barely makes ends meet on her small salary, but at least she's free. She happens into an embroidery group which helps make her new friends, gain confidence, and learn a new skill. Since her fiancĂ© died in the great war and the men in England are so scarce, she thought she would just have family - but that changes when she find Arthur. The bell ringer in the cathedral she embroiders at. Violet is coming into her own, slowly but surely forging her own path into the great unknown. Great story, excellent narrator. I love Tracy Chevalier. 

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

A Deadly Education


Wow - Naomi Novik knows how to worldbuild. She is a master of creating the most in depth, unique, and exciting fantasies. Admittedly, A Deadly Education drops readers right into the thick of it at the beginning of the book - and it takes a chapter or two to begin to understand the dangerous world that Galadriel is in. Galadriel is a teenage sorceress and she's only got one more year to go before she can hopefully graduate from the Scholomance, a school in the void that magic users from all over the world attend. It's a dark academy with no teachers, only creatures that lay wait for unsuspecting students. Far less than half the students make it to graduation - even less make it across the graduation hall to rejoin the world. Orion Lake has a bad habit of playing hero and he's saved Galadriel's life more than once now. But Galadriel doesn't want a savior - she just wants to make it out alive on her terms - she's not trying to make friends (which is good because she would be awful at it). Filled with a sprinkling of teenage drama, a load of big bad beasties, and lots of wonderful world building. I can't wait to read the next book in the series!

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Bring Your Baggage and Don't Pack Light


Ellis, Helen. Bring Your Baggage and Don't Pack Light: Essays. digital. 2021. Penguin Random House Audio. 

Bestselling author of Southern Lady Code and American Housewife, Helen Ellis, returns with another humorous collection of essays on the beauty of friendship. More than just tired old adages, this witty collection explores what real friends do for one another; stories about being a last minute birthing partner,  supporting a friend through cancer, backdoor plastic surgery and greyhound buses - there is no limit on what friends will do for each other. Hele even explores the joy of being a number two friend or a backup buddy - less pressure -  more befits!  Each of the twelve essays features a revolving cast of friends and side characters that will leave readers cackling with delight. Enchantingly narrated by the author herself which lends to the books relatability and hilarity. This collection manages to be both poignant and emotional; while still being facetious, dirty, sassy, and laugh out loud funny. Perfect for fans of Jenny Lawson and David Sedaris. - Erin Cataldi, Johnson Co. Public Library, Franklin, IN


Friday, July 2, 2021

Red Queen


I haven't got invested in a young adult series in a while but I think I will definitely continue on with the Red Queen series. This is a new dystopian fantasy series that is inventive and unique enough to set itself apart from Hunger Games and Divergent (although there are some clear parallels) and yet remains cool enough to be added to those ranks. In Mare's world society is divided between the reds and the silvers. The silvers are the high class people who have special abilities to wield fire, read minds, control water, manipulate metals, and more. The reds are the lower caste, the ones who still bleed red, have no powers, and have been oppressed for decades. Mare's world is turned upside down when she is sent to work in the palace. She has lived in abject poverty her whole life and to see such prosperity and wealth is sickening to her. Mare is secretly rooting for the Red Dawn, a terrorist organization trying to overthrow the silvers and when she discovers that she has silver powers and red blood (a totally anomaly) she finds herself in a rare position to help others and overthrow the silvers once and for all. Engrossing and fun. I can't wait for the next in the series!

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

The Last Thing He Told Me


When Hannah opens the door, a twelve year old girl hands her a note from her husband that says "protect her." He is clearly referring to Owens daughter and Hannah's stepdaughter, Bailey. But what does Owen mean and where has he gone? He won't answer any calls and he has seemingly vanished into thin air. Hannah hears on the radio that the company her husband works for has been raided by the government and people are going to jail. But why would her husband be involved in a scandal like this? And what does Bailey need protecting from - the FBI? Hannah thought she knew Owen well, but the deeper she goes down the rabbit hole the less she is confident about. Even his daughter, Bailey is perplexed. What is going on? Twisty - this thriller will keep readers guessing as they try to figure out why or where Owen has disappeared to. 

Malibu Rising


Wow - Taylor Jenkins Reid writes some of the best characters. Not only are they so real, they have humanity and flaws - they are people you would want to meet in real life! Set in Malibu, this novel goes back in forth in time between one fateful day in 1983 and their mother's early years. Their father is the world famous singer, Mick Riva, but he checked out of their lives when they were just children. Nina is the eldest in her mid twenties and she's a talented surfer and model, next come the "twins" - Jay and Hud, one a world famous surfer and the other his photographer, the baby of the bunch is Kit who is trying to find her place in the world. One insane party that will turn their lives around.  The four Rivas kids throw one huge party every year; each year it keeps escalating with more celebrities, more drugs, and more surprises. Readers will wish they had an invite to this over the top party that will end up changing the Rivas' lives forever. Impossible to put down. 

Monday, June 28, 2021

The Road Trip


I've read every single one of Beth O'Leary's books and on the whole I really like them. They aren't all fluff but they are heartfelt and thought-provoking. The Road Trip, her latest novel, is my least favorite so far. I'm not sure if it was because I strongly detested one of the characters or if I didn't like the concept - but this one wasn't quite up to par with her other two novels. Addie and her sister Deb are road-tripping to Scotland to go to one of their dear friends wedding when they are rear ended by her ex and his best friend. She knew they would be at the wedding but Addie is no prepared to see him like this. What are the odds?! The car that Dylan and Marcus were driving is no shape to make the trip to Scotland and there is no public transportation available as it's a holiday weekend. It looks as if they are all going to be stuck with each other in one small uncomfortable car. What could possibly go wrong?! The story alternates between now and then - telling the story of how they got together and what drove them apart. I loathed Marcus' character and I wanted him to walk off a cliff so bad. If it werem't for him I think I would have given this a 4 instead of a 3. 

Thursday, June 17, 2021

The Guncle


Lived up to the hype and then some! Extremely heartfelt, hilarious, and touching. I was enamored with this unconventional family trying to work through their grief and get to know each other. When Patrick's best friend and sister in law dies after a battle with cancer, his brother asks that he takes the kids back with him to Palm Springs so that he can check himself into rehab. And not just for a little bit either, ninety days - the whole summer! Patrick is a former tv star, a golden globe winner, and a sassy gay man who is perfectly content to be a recluse. Kids?! At his house?! They'll ruin the baby grand piano, trash the pool, ruin his collection of pristine Playbills. And for the whole summer?!? But he'll do it for Sarah. He knows a lot about grief and heartbreak and someone has to be there for his niece and nephew so it may as well be him. Five year old, Grant, and eight year old, Maisie, are a handful but as they get used to their GUP (Gay Uncle Patrick) they start to get into a routine and Patrick discovers that his life has never been more full. The kids are helping him as much as he's presumably helping them. They may not drink martinis but they know how to have a good time. The kids are hilarious and Patrick is someone you'll immediately want to be friends with. I could not put this book down. Soo soo heartwarming.