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


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.