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


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


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!