Friday, December 31, 2021

The Book Smugglers


This series is so much fun for bibliophiles and young readers. Adventures in books - what more could you want?! The Book Smugglers is the fourth book in the series and this book opens with Tilly's grandfather being magically poisoned by a book. He's been catatonic for weeks and they have no idea how to cure him. When Horatio, the driver of the magical train The Quip, and his nephew Milo show up on their doorstep wanting to barter a cure in return for Tilly's help, they feel they have to take it. But when Horatio accidentally touches the book and becomes poisoned himself, it's up to Tilly and Milo to try and figure out what to do. There only clue lies in The Wizard of Oz. A fun continuation that ends on a cliffhanger. I can't wait for the next one!

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Traitors Among Us


Bestselling middle grade author, Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch (Making Bombs for Hitler), writes a compelling World War II novel for young readers about the dangers that lurk even when the war is over. Sisters, Krystia and Maria, have suffered greatly in their native country of Ukraine. They thought that they finally made it to safety when they made it to a displaced persons camp and that the worst was behind them. But while there, they see a face from their past, a young Nazi girl. Before they can tell the Americans that they have a traitor in their midst, Krystia and Maria are accused of being Nazi collaborators, by that same girl who really was involved with the Nazis. Despite their pleas and denials, they are taken away by Soviets and interrogated for crimes they never committed. Wonderfully narrated by multiple authors who bring the girls different viewpoints, trials, and tribulations to life. The sisters survived the Nazis but will they be able to survive the Soviets? Gripping and eye opening. Young readers will devour this war novel that deals with content not normally discussed in history class or seen in novels. Historical fiction at it's best. 

The Reading List


A book that bibliophiles will delight in. A true reader's delight. A story about the power of books in bringing people together. Widower Mukesh lives a lonely life in West London, unsure how to fill the days since his wife of nearly fifty years has passed. When he finds a library book, The Time Travelers Wife, in her things, he starts to read it. Even though he has never been a reader he is entranced. He wants to read more books like that so he can feel closer to his wife. He finds the library the book belongs to and in the process starts reading off a list that will break him out of his shell and bring him closer to a teenager battling family issues. Together they work their way through a list of books  and each title helps change the way they think and gives them new perspectives on life. Charming. 

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

One Day in December


A cute romcom about love at first sight and missed chances. What happens when two people constantly miss their chance at love? Is it meant to be or will they just circle each other forever wondering what if. When Laurie spotted Jack at a bus stop - she just knew. But by the time she "knew" the bus was moving and it would take her over a year to find her bus boy. By the time she found him they would both get another chance - but the circumstances had changed. Cute and thought provoking. You'll be cheering for these two the whole novel wondering how on earth they will finally pull it off. A perfect holiday romance. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Razorblade Tears


Wow - this book was raw, gritty, redemptive, and angry. I loved it. Ultimately sad, this revenge story is about two fathers, one black and one white, who team up to avenge their sons deaths. Their sons were married to each other, a fact that both of the men had a hard time stomaching while their boys were alive. But now that their sons have been brutally murdered they must come to terms with their own actions and get to the bottom of why someone would want to kill them. Ike and Buddy Lee are both rough around the edges. Both have served hard time and know their way around a guns and death. But is that what their sons would have wanted? Are they just trying to make amends for the way they treated their sons while they were alive? A book I can't stop thinking about. Fast paced and action packed. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Stamped


One of the most necessary books I have ever read. Even though this remix of the original version is written for teens, the writing style and the prose make it accessible to everyone. Powerful, searing, and eye opening; I wish everyone could read this book and open their hearts. So many ideas we have about race aren't ours and we've been lied to time and time again without us even knowing. It goes much deeper and farther back than we realize. We need to work hard at becoming antiracist, not just once, but every day. A punch to the gut, but absolutely necessary to wake you up to the history of racism and to the possibility of what the future could be without it.

Monday, December 20, 2021

Heartburn


Honestly had I read this book instead of listening to the audiobook version (narrated by the queen, Meryl Streep) I probably would have only given it three stars. BUT, Meryl Streep is an amazing narrator and her voice really helped elevate the so-so story. Rachel Samstat is seven months pregnant with her second child when she discovers that her no good husband is in the middle of an affair. She doesn't know if she wants to kill him or try to win him back, but she has to do something. Normally Rachel writes about food and family (she is a talented cookbook writer), but she's going to try her hand at writing about this sordid affair and working her way through it. Funny, ridiculous, and over the top, this novel of infidelity, friendship, and food, is over the top and fun. A bit tiring in parts, but again, Meryl Streep.

Hide and Geek


Jagger, T.P. Hide and Geek. digital. 2021. Penguin Random House. 

Debut children's novelist, T.P. Jagger, has written a witty and fast paced adventure story full of mystery and intrigue that will delight and engage young readers. Four best friends, Gina, Edgar, Elena, and Kevin have been not so affectionately dubbed the GEEKs, based on their initials. Rather then be offended, they have decided to embrace their new name and run with it. Their hometown of Elmwood used to be a famous little spot as the hometown and headquarters of the famous toymaker Maxine Van Houten. Her popular toy, the Bamboozler, kept more than half the town employed - with residents making the puzzle sphere in the local factory. However, the factory is going to be shut down and the GEEKs may be separated forever if their parents have to move away too find new employment. Luckily, the GEEKs discovered that Maxine left one final puzzle behind. A treasure hunt that will lead to a treasure that will save their struggling factory and town. Only those who truly love Elmwood and it's unique history will be able to solve and find the clues. Will the GEEKs live up to their name and solve the clues to save the town? Humorously narrated by the talented voice actress, Danice Cabanela, who does a great job portraying all four kids. A perfect listen for readers who love puzzles and adventure and the first in series! - Erin Cataldi, Johnson Co. Public Library, Franklin, IN

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Lore Olympus


I didn't know what to expect with this graphic novel but I was very pleasantly surprised! Greek mythology has always been full of scandal, heartache, pettiness, and raging parties. Imagine if it those shenanigans took place in modern times, and gods and demigods had access to phones and social media. Lots of fun. mainly revolves around Persephone who is new to Olympus (she was raised in the mortal realm) and Hades. They keep circling each other, but neither know how to proceed. Cute, charming, and steamy. I can't wait to see where this famous webtoon goes next. I hope all the Greek gods are covered!

A History of Wild Places


The premise of this was soo promising, but I figured out where this was going about halfway through and the end wasn't that amazing. That being sad - this book was a fast paced thrill ride. I enjoyed the journey - I just wish I enjoyed it MORE. Travis Wren has been hired by a family desperate to find their missing adult daughter, Maggie St. James. Her car was found but police never picked up her trace. Travis goes further than the police were willing to go - through woods, up hills, and around gulley's and he eventfully finds a community, Pastoral, and Maggie St. James. But if he's not careful he could go missing in plain sight in this weird cultish community, just like Maggie. Dark and twisty this book goes places you don't expect. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

No One Else


A short graphic novel depicting the harsh reality of being a  full time caregiver and single parent. Charlene is a full time nurse who struggles to stay on top of caring for her aging father and young son. When her father suffers a tragic accident she is barely holding it together. Then her hippie brother shows up out of nowhere and adds fuel to the fire. Where has he been all these years and how dare he try to criticize her life. An honest and painful look into caregiving that many will understand and empathize with. 

Monday, December 13, 2021

Dear Santa


A perfectly fine and fluffy Christmas romance about getting everything you wanted and then realizing you asked for too much. Lindy Carmichael is happy for two weeks in her hometown with her parents over Christmas but that is about all she's grateful for. She's had an awful 6 months in Seattle and all she wants is a break. Her mom instantly knows something is wrong and Lindy spills her guts. To cheer her up, her mother brings out a box of Lindy's old letters to Santa. Santa was really good about granting her wishes too. Just for fun Lindy decides to write to Santa. She wants a new romance, a new best friend, and to get her project selected at work. It's all for fun, but then she reconnects with her old childhood best friend. And then she stumbles across a bully from her youth and dang he's aged well. Soon her time is flying by and she's grateful for everything. But what will happen if Santa grants her third wish? Cheesy, predictable and cute. Would make a great Hallmark movie. 

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Captive Hearts


I randomly selected a book that was the first in a series to read for our manga discussion and it just so happened to be this title. I'm not that familiar with manga but I was able to dive right in. The story was... interesting, but got annoying quickly. Megumi Kuroishi had been living a pretty carefree life with his father, but that all changed when Suzuka Kogami came to live with him in his father. She was the daughter of the owners of the house and they had been missing for over a decade. Upon her return an ancient curse went into effect and now Megumi can't stop being Suzuka's servant. He dotes on her at all times and he can't stop. After a while though he realizes that even without the curse he would still be doting on lovely, Suzuka, he is obsessed with her. She just wants to make him see her as not just a master and maybe something more. Weird and kinda creepy. Good illustrations. 

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Broken Strings


My heart! This was such a tearjerker for me. This middle grade novel set in the months following the fall of the Twin Towers wrecked me emotionally and I can't recommend it enough. 8th grade singer, Shirli Berman, wants to look forward to something positive in the aftermath of the 9/11 attack and the loss of her grandmother. She has her sights set on being Hodel in the spring musical, Fiddler on the Roof. When she is stuck playing Golde, the mother, she is at first disappointed but then realizes her "husband" will be the most popular boy in school. She may not get any solos but she can act and sing her heart out. As a Jewish teen, Shirli relates to the story of the musical, her grandfather was even from Poland not long after the play is set. She wants to really get into the part so she starts going over to her grandfather's house more and trying to get him to talk about his past, something he never does. Even her father (his son) doesn't know about all the terrible things he suffered through during the Holocaust. Shirli and her grandfather start bonding over the musical and start opening up to each other in very powerful ways. A wonderful, moving story. 

Breath to Bear


The satisfying rock and roll follow up to Blood and Bone. Filled with romance, betrayal, regrets, and hard rock - this follow up will leave readers more than satisfied. Blood and Bone focused on Jack O'Donnell's past; the rise of his famous band MOGO, the birth of his child, his divorce, and the death of Mia- the muse that he loved. Journalist, Erin Langford, helped him dig into the past as a way to heal and in the process wrote a bestselling memoir. Breath to Bear picks up on the heels of the memoir's success and delves into Jack and Erin's relationship. Is it more than just sex? Is Jack STILL hanging on to Mia? Romantic, maddening, and hopeful, this steamy romance is about redemption and the things you'll do for the ones you'll love. Some things are worth fighting for as Jack and Erin finally realize.


It looks as if there are more books to come in this series and the third installment will focus on Jack's bandmate, Cash, and his interest in Erin's friend. Perfect for fans of Daisy Jones and the Six, romance, and hard rock. Lots of fun. 

Monday, December 6, 2021

The Santa Suit


Cute and fluffy - this would clearly make a jolly good Hallmark Christmas movie. Ivy is a newly divorced woman that wants nothing more than a fresh start. She decides to buy a rural farm, sight unseen, with dreams to raise chickens and rehab the old place. When she arrives she discovers that the old place is in rougher condition than she imagined but that still want deter her. Her cute and annoyingly persistent realtor is also her neighbor and he loves coming over to help Ivy out with her many projects. The house was left fully furnished so there are piles of things to go through. When Ivy finds a beautiful old velvet Santa suit she has no idea how many lives are about to change. Cute, predictable, and full of good cheer. 

Saturday, December 4, 2021

An Indiana Christmas


I adored this short story collection. It contained stories, plays and poems; new and old from some of Indiana's greatest authors. James Whitcomb Riley, Kurt Vonnegut, Jean Shephard, Ernie Pyle, and more are present in these pages. Some are humorous, some heartwarming, a few even melancholy - but all have Christmas spirit and Hoosier connections. Excerpts from Jean Shephard's story that were the basis for A Christmas Story are present in this collection which is arguably the most famous depiction of an Indiana Christmas in the world. There are old timey Christmases, holidays in the sixties and even holidays spent overseas during WWII. This collection has something for everyone and you don't have to be a Hoosier to appreciate it. Wonderful and something I'll re-read on many a Christmas!

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Aurora's End


What a stunning conclusion to this trilogy. I will read anything and everything written by Amie and Jay - they are quite literally one of the best writing duos around. I read this book in two sittings over the span of one day. I could not put it down. Like all their books - it's fast paced right out the gate. The book opens with Scarlett, Finnian, and Zila not exploding but being stuck in a time loop. It will take all their brain power and a lot of oopsies to figure out how the hell to get out of there and stop blowing up. But since they are in a loop they have all the time in the world... right? Tyler and his new frenemy, Saedii, find that they have a deepening attraction but her duty is to her people and not stopping the Ra'haam. He may have to set out solo and try to warn the Academy. Aurora and Kal are stuck with the starslayer and the weapon that can save the universe. The only problem is it's broken. So many variables yet it's up to this ragtag team to somehow save the galaxy. Witty, funny, and keeps readers at the edge of their seats. I'm already awaiting another book from this writing duo - give me more!!

Monday, November 22, 2021

All I Want for Christmas


I think this is only my second Nora Roberts book, but I sense a theme of beautiful people falling in love with each other. Zeke and Zack Taylor decide that for Christmas they want a mom. They write Santa early in the fall so that he has time to find them a perfect woman for their dad to fall in love wit. When Nell Davis moves to their small community as the new high school music teacher the twin boys are smitten. She's beautiful and nice and they are certain that she's the one Santa sent. Their dad, Mac does notice Nell and the attraction is mutual, but he's so worried about hurting his boys or having a woman walk out on his boys that he's not sure if he even wants to purse things with Nell. Will the boys get their Christmas wish or not. Predictable and cheesy, but okay for a holiday novella.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever


I'm positive I read this in second or third grade and it was a delight to revisit it again. This is a book that could never be written now with kids smoking cigars add bullying run rampant in these pages. That being said it was a blast from the past and a look into a book and a childhood that is vastly different from modern times. The Herman kids are everyone's worst nightmares. They are bullies, they lie, steal, hit, and even smoke cigars. Kids and adults try to keep a wide berth. The weekends are the only time that kids get away from the Herdmans, they at least have Sunday school without those demons - that is until they eventually crash that party too. And what happens when they bully their way into the Christmas pageant. Will Christmas ever be the same again? Lots of fun. 

Quiet Until the Thaw


I didn't realize until after I read this that it wasn't even written by an indigenous author, which really explains a lot. The story seemed mostly inauthentic and jumped around so much as to make it distracting. Two Native American cousins, Rick Overlooking Horse and You Choose Watson grow up in similar circumstances yet turn out to have vastly different futures. One becomes a drunk looking for trouble and the other finds himself in Vietnam and then later raising two orphan boys. Far more than just their two lives intersecting there are short vignettes about their friends and others struggling on the reservation. Too jumpy and sporadic. There are good parts, they are just buried. 

Friday, November 19, 2021

Emma in the Night


A thriller that sucks you in with it's leisurely pace and constant revelations. It may start slow, but it picks up steam all the way to the shocking conclusion. Cass and her sister Emma disappeared three years ago when they were both teenagers and Cass has come out of the woodwork and back to her mother's house. Everyone is shocked. Where has she been and where is her sister? Cass recounts to her family and the police about her time spent captive on an island and her sister being pregnant. They couldn't leave because of the baby. But how much of her story is true? Or is it all true and they've been barking up the wrong tree all along. Twisty and compelling although a little far fetched at times. 

Thursday, November 18, 2021

The Benefits of Being an Octopus


Honestly one of the most engaging and eye opening middle grade books I've ever read. Perfect for getting young minds to either think about those who have to struggle to make ends meet or it's a mirror for others to see that they aren't alone. Seventh grader Zoey doesn't have time for homework or crushes or other fun middle school things - she's barely making ends meet. She has to take care of her three younger siblings every day after school while her mom works and it doesn't leave her much time to be a kid. Changing diapers, soothing tears, giving baths - it's exhausting - but when you're stuck in a cycle of poverty you have to do anything and everything to stay afloat. She wished she could be an octopus so she had eight arms to do eight things at once, plus they have great protective defenses. But she's at least grateful that they live in a clean trailer with her mom's boyfriend - but even though they live somewhere "nice" they have to put up with a lot of mean things from the owner. A story of finding your voice, gaining confidence, overpowering the odds, and not judging those who are trying their best. A great book about empathy.  

Monday, November 15, 2021

Birdie's Bargain


Emotional and heartfelt - this novel is perfect for middle grade readers who are dealing with a parent in the military, confusion about Christianity, and struggling with friends. Birdie is upset that their parents have to move their family into Gram's house while her father is deployed for a third time because money is too tight. She has to go to a new school, lose her friends, and sleep in the world's tiniest bedroom. But the worst part is her dad leaving, Birdie is convinced he will die in Iraq. The third time is the charm. She makes a bargain with God that she will pray and honor him if he just keeps her dad safe. But not all promises can be kept. A good fictional account on struggling with religion and trying to process grief and anger. She's also a far from perfect heroine so she is a relatable character for kids to read about. 

If Fried Chicken Could Fly


Intriguing - a cute cozy mystery that is the first in a series. Centered around Gram's Country Cooking School, Betts assists her grandma with teaching classes and catering food. When the body of a man grams was seeing is found in the maintenance room, all hell breaks loose. Grams is considered a suspect and briefly jailed. It's up to Betts to try and solve the crime - and hopefully before the big cookoff that brings all the tourists to town. She might be in more danger than she knows - but thankfully a cowboy comes to her aid as does her ex-boyfriend who has recently returned and become a cop. It was cute and quirky - but I could have done without the supernatural element. 

Friday, November 12, 2021

No One Goes Alone


I knew this was only available as an audiobook, but I neglected to read the description. When I saw it was written by Erik Larson I assumed that it would be some kind of true crime nonfiction. Wrong. It was a historical ghost story set on a small island in 1905. A group of researchers, all who deal with the "supernatural" or fantastical things, come together to explore a manor on an island on which there have been some unexplained disappearances. They set out to prove there is nothing haunted or wrong with the house but as the days progress something is definitely off. No one can put a finger on it - but there are occurrences that make no sense. Danger, romance, mistrust, and slow growing fear spread throughout the inhabitants. Starts off strong, but I stopped caring the last hour or so.

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Sun Down Motel


Impossible to put down. This thriller grips readers from the beginning and holds on to them til the very end. Told in two alternate timelines. In 1982, when Viv runs away from her home she tells her mom she's running away to New York City to become an actress. In all actuality, Viv doesn't care where she ends up as long as it's far away from home. She makes it to a sleepy town in upstate New York and lucks into a job working as a night clerk at the motel she's staying at. Things aren't what they seem at the Sun Down, is it haunted or is her mind playing tricks on her? Decades later in 2017 Viv's niece, Carly, comes looking for her. All she knows about her Aunt Viv is that she went missing in 1982 and was last seen at the Sun Down Motel. It always bugged Carly that no one in her family talked about her missing aunt. Now that Carly's mom has died, rather than processing her grief she's going to go back to the beginning, back to the Sun Down Motel. Genuinely creepy and wonderful. A must for fans of true crimes and armchair detectives. 

Monday, November 8, 2021

A Little Hope


Emotional and poignant - this was a rollercoaster of feelings and I zipped through this book super fast. Told through a multitude of characters yet, revolving around one couple, multiple storylines overlap and interact in this beautiful melting pot. In the not so small town of Wharton, Connecticut, many lives are off balance. A man struggles with addiction, a women misses her unreliable ex boyfriend, a husband cheats on his wife in an unforgivable moment of weakness. The thread that ties all these lives together is not just their location it's Freddie and Greg. Greg has just been diagnosed with cancer, the kind that most never recover from. How will his wife survive, or his daughter, and what do the people in town have to do with anything. Emotional and fulfilling - a tearjerker at moments yet ultimately inspiring and hopeful. 

Thursday, November 4, 2021

The House on Mango Street


A quick poetic look at the innocence, beauty, and hardship of growing up in a Latin neighborhood in Chicago. Esperanza minces no words and her beautiful, minimal, and magical prose tell so much about her neighbors, her dreams, and her family. The lens through which she views her world is often na├»ve but as the pages turn she gets more mature as she starts to grow out of childhood. The way in which she describes her world, namely the motley cast of characters that are her neighbors, is eye opening and honest. A quick coming of age tale told through vignettes that explores love, heartbreak, friendship, and family. A classic.  

Guilty Pleasures


I love this series. This is probably my fourth or fifth time re-reading this. It's been a few years since the last time and I had been itching to get back at it. Per usual, I loved every second of it. Anita Blake is freaking awesome, she's such a badass character. The intricate plot and amazing array of characters are also some of the things that keep me coming back or more. Vampirism is legalized in the United States and with that brings a whole slew of problems. Anita is on a retainer for police as their resident expert. Besides being a vampire slayer, she is also a full time animator, raising corpses from the dead for clients to settle wills and say goodbyes. At only, 24 she has quite the reputation. She's known as the executioner. Her newest case, a series of bloody murders around the vampire district is going to be challenging in more way than one. If she doesn't figure out who is wasting vampires, her best friend's life may be in danger. Wonderful from start to finish, I love Anita's sarcastic, cocky bravado.

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

An Amish Quilt


Sweet and charming - I love a good Amish short story. An Amish Quilt contains three short stories by different authors that center around a quilt. In Patchwork Perfect, Eli Byler moves to a new community looking for a fresh start and a new wife to mother his two children. There are two lovely widows available but he keeps being drawn to Miriam, an unconventional "old maid." The heart wants what the heart wants. In A Bid For Love, Hannah Lynne pines after Ezra, a charming man who buys butter from her. After a debacle over a quilt at an auction - the two find themselves spending some time together and sparks are flying. Finally, in A Midwife's Dream, Iris Beachy wishes she was married with children, instead she's delivering other women's babies. She finds her life rewarding but she wants more. When two Englisher teenagers seek her out to deliver their baby and promptly abandon it - Iris finally knows what motherhood feels like. But is it enough? All three stories were unique and wonderful. Happy endings all around.

Gods and Monsters


Better than the middle book but still not as amazing as the first in the trilogy. But I digress. The book opens up with Lou acting weirder than normal. They all just suffered an unimaginable loss, but is she taking it worse than the others or is something wrong? A darkness is settling over her and if they can't drive it from her than nothing that they've worked towards will matter. They have to find and kill her mother, but traveling across the kingdom with their faces on every wanted poster is proving difficult. Are they out of option? Out of allies? Not fast paced till you reach the last 200 pages but then it flies by in a satisfying conclusion. The first book is amazing but if I were to judge the series as a whole I would only give it 3 out of 5 stars. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

What She Knew


A twisty police procedural/thriller about an abducted young boy. Alternating between one of the police higher ups, Jim Clemo, and the boys mother, Rachel - What She Knew is about lies, betrayal, fear, and second guesses. When Rachel lets her little boy run ahead on the trail she thinks she is giving him some independence. She'll regret that moment her the rest of her life. From then on her boy is missing. The case quickly becomes a media sensation and everyone is quick to lay the blame on the mother. But did she do it? A fast paced thriller that does a good job covering all aspects of the story with the alternating points of view. The ending was shocking to a degree, but not mind blowing. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

The Ickabog


I have to preface this by saying - no I don't support JK Rowling and her deluded thoughts on transgendered people. I felt icky for even reading this, I had to completely separate the author from her work. That being said, I did enjoy the story and I thought it had a good moral lessons and was an overall good kids story. I also loved that children were the illustrators; it added a little extra whimsy and fun. The Ickabog is about monsters and kings, deceptive advisors, loyalty, friendship, and tall tales. What happens when a King swears he saw a monster? A monster that killed the captain of his guard - what happens if it was all a hoax? How wrapped up can the kingdom get? How can one lie hurt everyone? Scarily relevant and timely. 

Monday, October 25, 2021

The Holiday Swap


Fluffy, cute, and full of holiday sappiness. Like Hallmark Christmas movies everything is wrapped up nicely in the end and all are happy. Two identical twins are in a bit of pickle. Chef Charlie Goodwin gets a concussion on the set of a baking show she co-hosts and she loses her ability to taste and smell. She'll never be able to pull off the rest of the holiday bake off and she needs to do good so that she gets chosen to be the host of a new baking show. Meanwhile her twin is in their hometown of Starlight Peak and has had enough of her long term boyfriend. Things haven't been going right for a while and she's ready to break it off, the only problem is he won't take a hint. The twins decide to switch lives to escape their problems. The only problem is they aren't in high school and the stakes are much higher now. What happens when they each find romance in their switched lives. Are they making more of a mess of things. Cute, predictable and fun. would make a great Hallmark movie. 

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Needlework


Kody isn't like most boys in his hometown in rural Kentucky. He likes to watch Golden Girls with his grandmother, quilt, and sing along to Dolly Parton. He lives with his Nanny and all things considered he has a pretty good life. His younger brother lives across town with his aunt and his uncle and his mommy lives just down the holler in a broken down little trailer. Their dad is in prison. Their mom has problems. She's an addict and she can hardly take care of herself let alone her two sons. Kody and Nanny do the best they can to keep her alive, but it's a thankless job. Thank goodness he has Dolly Parton to keep him sane. Besides his mommy, the most stressful thing in his life is keeping his grandmother from finding out he's gay and likes to dress up in makeup. But then he gets a Facebook and gets a message that will change his life and his family's forever. Touching and heartfelt. A Very genuine and fun young adult story. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

The Women of Troy


Not as strong as her first book in the series, The Silence of the Girls, but still a wonderful imagining of what happens to the women left behind or captured in war. The Women of Troy takes place right after Rome has fallen to the Greeks. Instead of sailing back to their homes as victors, the Greeks are stuck on the beach as the gods punish them with horrible winds. Briseis, once a queen of Troy, then a slave bride of Achilles, is now forced to marry Alcimus. She is largely overlooked because she is a woman, but her life has drastically improved now that she is no longer a slave. Alcimus is a good man that doesn't force himself on her and for that she is grateful. Briseis spends her time trying to improve the lives of the slave women in her camp while also tracking down the former Trojan women who lived in the palace; Hecabe, Helen, Cassandra, and Andromache. With the exception of Cassandra, all are slaves forced into uncertain futures. As the Greek men get more frunk , belligerent, and angry as they are stranded on the shores of Trot - the atmosphere is like a powder keg. Could life get any worse for these women. Great for readers of Greek mythology. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Apples Never Fall


Filled with her trademark banter, crazy plot twists, and dysfunctional characters - I enjoyed Liane Moriarity's latest novel. When the Delaney children discover their mother is missing they don't call the police. After all the father would be the prime suspect and they're sure their mother is alright... wherever she is. The four Delaney children are all adults living their own lives (though not very well) but when they get together it's hard not to act like children competing for their parents love. The family is well known and envied in their corner of Australia, they ran a successful tennis school and all played brilliantly - they even had one of the top tennis players in the world get their start at their little academy. But if everything is so perfect then where is their mother? And why are they trying to hide things from the past. Twisty and interesting. The ending was a little rushed, but it was still another fast paced Moriarity read! 

Friday, October 15, 2021

Cujo


Jesus. This book. Not horror all the way through, not like I anticipated from a Stephen King novel, but disturbing nonetheless. I had never seen the movie so I only knew there was a bad dog and trapped people in a car. I wasn't prepared though for this. It's that of course, and so much more. It's upsetting and disturbing and although it's not fast paced, the slow and steady build of the story make it terrifying. When Donna and her son Tad drive out to a local mechanics place to get their car fixed they have no idea what horror awaits for them. Donna's husband is in Boston for business for a few weeks and the mechanics family has left for a week. No one knows where Donna is and soon they are trapped by a rabid dog with no hope in sight. No one is going to come to save them. It's the hottest week in the year - how will they survive? This is a hard read for animal lovers. A heartbreaking read. The ending was..... awful. Cujo is about more than just a rabid dog - it's about rabid people - people who are at their worst, people who make bad decisions, and those decisions have consequences. Disturbing, but well written. I don't know if I can stomach watching the movie though. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

The Book of Magic


I adore all the books in this series and this final installment (I think it's the last? it felt very final) was "chef's kiss!" From start to finish I could not put it down and I definitely teared up at the end. As readers of the first three books know, the Owens family women have been cursed in love for over three hundred years. Anyone they love is doomed to die before their time. All Owens girl's know not to fall in love, all except Sally's two daughters, Antonia and Kylie. Sally's heart has been broken twice by the curse and she is very anti-magic. She has refused to tell her daughters anything about their witchy ancestry so they have no idea to not fall in love. When Kylie's love of her life, Gideon is struck by a car and put in a coma - all because of a curse she didn't know about - she decides to take matters into her own hands. What follows is a dangerous journey back to where it all started with their ancestor, Hannah Owens, in England. Fantastic, compelling, and magical. I gobbled this book up and it gave me all the feels!

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Lumberjanes


Oh my, I am soo glad I picked up this bad boy! It was even better than I anticipated!! You will want all your friends to read it so that you can talk about it and try to be as cool as the lumberjanes. Seriously, I want to be on their level. While at a summer camp for "Hardcore Lady-Types" five campers discover something mysterious going on in the wilderness surrounding their cabins. Three eyed foxes, yetis, a river monster, and rumors of a "Holy Kitten" keep the lumberjanes busy and drives their camp counselor up a wall. Hilarious and over the top, this comic amused me to no end. I was sold after the Holy Kitten, but it continued to get better after that, with sayings like, "What in the Joan Jett!?" minor hinting towards gay crushes, mythical creatures, and random rantings, this book has a little something for everyone. This is definitely one that I will buy and will continue to keep up with the series. Soo damn good!

Monday, October 11, 2021

The Ex Hex


Halloweentown meets an adult Sabrina the Teenage Witch in this cute romcom. Vivienne Jones drunkenly cursed her ex-boyfriend when she was a teenager. But she and her cousin were just fooling around, it's not like anything happened. Except when that ex-boyfriend comes back to town nine years later - all sorts of things start happening to him; a statue almost falls on him, he almost gets hit by a car. Did the curse really work? Rhys Penhallow is sent back to his family's hometown to recharge the ley lines on Halloween - and he hasn't been back since Viv broke up with him. The sexual tension is thrumming in the air and it's not the magic. Viv and Rhy have to work together to find a way to reverse the curse and save the town before something really bad happens. Cute, fluffy, and fun. A perfect Halloween read. 

A Spindle Splintered

 


Harrow, Alix E. A Spindle Splintered. digital. 2021. Macmillan Audio. $18.99. ISBN 9781250824486. 

Bestselling author, Alix E. Harrow (The Once and Future Witches), gives a feminist twist on the classic Sleeping Beauty tale in this inventive and empowering novella. A Spindle Splintered is the first in a new series of fairy retellings, Fractured Fables. Zinnia Gray's twenty-first birthday is bittersweet; she lives with a rare condition that no one has ever lived past the age of twenty-two. The clock is ticking and she is torn between wanting to live her own life and comforting her parents. When her best friend throws her a surprise birthday party in an old prison tower complete with warm beer, roses, and an old spindle, Zinnia is touched. She may be too old for her favorite fairy tale, but what's the harm in a little make believe? When she jokingly pricks her finger on the spindle, she finds herself transported to another time and place where a young girl's clock is running out just like hers. The two girls decide to take their destiny's in their own hands and race against the clock and their curses to make better futures for themselves. Amy Landon brilliantly narrates this inspired retelling while making it exciting and magical. Although a quick listen at less than four hours, this is a great start to a new series that fans of fairy tales and feminist literature will enjoy. - Erin Cataldi, Johnson Co. Public Library, Franklin, IN

Friday, October 8, 2021

Leadership: In Turbulent Times


This is a book that made me slow down and savor what I was reading, which is a change of pace from the fluff that I've read most of this year. Leadership in Turbulent times is a historical fiction/leadership book that recounts how four different presidents handled adversity and hardship. Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Lyndon B. Johnson became presidents at trying times. The Great Depression, The Civil War, Civil Rights, and the industrial revolution. Doris Kearns Goodwin does a remarkable job relating the character and leadership styles of each president from childhood through early politics and all the way through the White House. None of these men were saints and most suffered many setbacks and failures, but learning how they overcame those as well as their successes is what makes this book great. Utterly fascinating and compelling. Leadership has many styles and reading the profiles on these four leaders is a feast for the heart and mind.  

Thursday, October 7, 2021

A View Most Glorious


I've enjoyed all three novels in Regina Scott's American Wonders collection. They act as standalones but the thing that ties them all together is that they take place at National Parks before they are even considered National Parks. A View Most Glorious follows Cora Baxter's quest to get to the top of Mount Rainier to raise awareness for the suffragette cause. For propriety's sake she will travel with her stepfather and a guide - but the guide in question happens to be a prickly man that once held the same social standing that Cora does. Nathan Hardee is reluctant to take the spoiled society girl to the top of the mountain as it's treacherous and she has no experience. She eventually wins him over and as they set out on their journey they discover that they have more in common then they thought. Cora falls in love with the exertion and the beauty all around her - and in the process Nathan starts to fall a little for her. There are more dangerous things than than mountain path to watch out for though; Cora's dastardly suitor and her conniving mother have a few tricks up their sleeves. Historical romance at it finest - inspirational fans won't want to miss out.   

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Season on the Wind


I really enjoyed this inspirational Amish romance because it discussed the dynamics of strict orders versus more lenient and forgiving sects. It also had Englischers (non-Amish) as an integral part of the story as well as birding - two things we don't always see a lot of. Ben Zook fled the Amish way of life years ago and vowed never to return. But when a rare bird stops in Stoney Ridge he can't stay away - it would be perfect in his latest book on rare birds. He convinces his cousin to come with him because she needs a change of scenery as she copes from the mess her life is in. They rent a guest house on the property of Penny and Micah two kind hearted Amish siblings. Micah is an eighteen year old birding prodigy and Penny is a 35 year old woman looking after the homestead and her baby brother. When she sees Ben Zook she is stunned speechless - she hadn't seen him since she was 12. She is convinced that God sent him here for a reason. Unfortunately Ben doesn't seem to recognize her at all. Filled with blossoming romance, birding, and coming back to God. This inspirational romance is heartfelt and fluffy. 

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Money Shot vol. 2


Not nearly as good as volume one, but still enjoyable to an extant. Everyone's favorite xxx-plorers are doing their thing in space and growing more popular on earth. They're able to finally fund their research. When the jerk who slashed the funds in the first place, the stupid president of the United States, tries to take away Money Shot, their teleportation device, things get heated. The president basically blackmails them until they agree to take him to other galaxies so he too can bone exotic aliens. What happens when he's cocky attitude and stupid mouth gets them all into trouble though!? I'm hopeful that volume three will be even better. 

Monday, October 4, 2021

Fuzz


I adore Mary Roach and her latest microhistory was no exception. I devoured this in one day. Each chapter deals with real life scenarios on human rules that animals break. It's equal parts hilarious and nauseating, but all around fascinating. Mary Roach is America's funniest science writer and her foray into the animal kingdom is amazing. There is a bit of gore or violence against animals in these pages (she pulls stories from all over the world), but the message is positive and empathetic. Rowdy, ridiculous and informative. 

Money Shot


Quick and unique, I loved this irreverent graphic novel about boning aliens in order to raise money for funding their science lab. Christine Ocampo invented a teleportation device and is dying to go to other planets and meet other life forms. She convinces her team that if they all become porn stars and film themselves going to other galaxies and making love with alien life forms they will raise enough funding so they sexcapades will turn into research. Fun, ridiculous, and unique. Give me more! 

Pimp my Airship


I'm excited to read another Indiana Author Award winner and this one was definitely unique. I loved that this book was set in Indianapolis, because even though it was futuristic and very steampunk I still was able to recognize many of the place names. I like how the author created new "history" for some of the places as well. A poet named Sleepy, finds himself caught up in the middle of a protest and suddenly he has a new hanger on named, (120 Degrees of) Knowledge Allah, and is wanted by every COP in the city. What in the heck happened? Across town in the wealthy and elite neighborhoods, Sophine Jefferson's father has just been murdered, she never cared much for politics, but suddenly she is swept in everything trying to avenge her father. Soon their paths will cross and Indianapolis will never be the same again. Unique and fun.