Friday, January 28, 2022

The Baller


Every year I try to read some football inspired smut leading up to the superbowl. This had been sitting on my shelf begging to be read. Delilah is a female sports reporter trying to prove herself in a man's world - when she is sent to do the locker room interviews with the New York Steel she is ready for anything - that is until star quarterback, Brody, takes his towel off mid-interview. She somehow manages to finish the interview but she is pissed. And of course as the New York Steel start to dominate she finds herself over at the football field, facing that sexy QB more and more often. Will the two fall for each other (you know they will). But as Delilah is letting go of her past, something from Brody's is entering his present. Can they make it work? Steamy and improbable. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Unmasked


I read this from start to finish in one day. Like most of America, I am completely enthralled with the dark parts of history, namely the crime and the murders - especially those that remain unsolved. Paul Holes uses his memoir to write not just about his life, but mainly his fascinating career solving cold cases. He writes about his involvement in the following cases: Lacie Peterson, Jaycee Dugard, and the Golden State Killer. There are lots of other cold cases peppered throughout - but those were some of the notorious cases he worked on during his career. The one he obsesses over the most (causing strains in family life) is of course The Golden State Killer. His insight and behind the scenes knowledge of these infamous cases will keep readers on edge. At times a little braggy, but how can you not be when you have a career like his under your belt. A perfect book for those interested in cold cases and forensics. 

Satan Loves You


If you are into bizarre - then this is a book for you. I've long loved Grady Hendrix and his absurd horror novels and this one was a real treat - while not my favorite of his - it had the most fun imagining of hell that I've ever read or seen. Satan has been struggling for eons - there simply isn't enough money to keep hell running at the standard it was used to. The demons are dispirited, it's becoming rundown, and Satan has had enough. He fired Death in a fit of rage, is trying to find a fighter for the upcoming Ultimate Death Match versus Heaven, is being sued by a woman claiming he assaulted her, and then gets word that the angels up above need him to kill a nun. Simply put Satan snaps. Intricately detailed with hilarious asides, this reads like a B-movie and is so much good fun. I could have cared less about the plot and just read about how hell operates. Definitely a uniquely weird read. 

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Strike Zone


I'm not a big baseball fan - but I was riveted by this middle grade sports novel. Twelve year old, Nick Garcia, is the star pitcher on his baseball team, The Blazers. If his team does well this summer and they win the championship and he gets the MVP award he would get to throw out the first pitch at a Yankee's game! But instead of focusing on sports - he keeps finding his mind wandering towards his family. His older sister suffers from Lupus and neither of his parents are American citizens. They could get deported back to the Dominican Republic at any time. His parents try to tell him to let them do the worrying and he can just stress about baseball, but he isn't having it. Especially not when people in his Bronx neighborhood keep getting taken by ICE. Riveting, and eye opening for kids. A wonderful story about hope, dreams, and baseball (albeit a little gut wrenching at times!).  

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

A Dragon Used to Live Here


A children's fantasy novel that is told as a story within a story. When two Noble Children lose one of their best arrows they stumble upon a "dungeon" in a courtyard they weren't often there. They soon discover that it's not a dungeon but an odd assortment of artists who are responsible for all the castles invitations, paintings, and decorations. The leader of the rag tag group is Meg, and she wants nothing to do with the children as she is very busy. But the kids know that this crazy woman (is she a witch?) has some fantastic stories up her sleeve. So the boy and girl come back every day with treats from the castle kitchen and put themselves to work, all in order to hear the story about the dragon who used to live in the tower. It's too unbelievable to be true, but the kids are entranced by the story. They soon discover -that one of the main characters in Meg's story is their sensible mother. Their mother knew about a dragon and never told them?!? Cute and fun, a perfect family read that is sure to elicit lots of giggles. The illustrations are a nice touch. 

Monday, January 17, 2022

The Magnolia Palace


This book started really slow for me - I didn't start caring about any of the characters or the plot until halfway through. Told during two time periods at the same place, the Frick Mansion in New York City, The Magnolia Palace is about uncovering long buried secrets. In 1919, infamous model "Angelica" is wanted for questioning by the police. When she is mistaken for an applicant for a lady's secretary and given an interview, she quickly accepts the job as the money will allow her to leave the city faster. Even though she knows nothing about being a secretary to the wealthy elite she is a quick learner and soon proves invaluable to the Frick family, especially, Helen. In 1966, an intern and a model are trapped overnight in The Frick Museum during a blizzard. Veronica (the model) discovers a packet of letters that are really a clue - what will they lead to and what will they uncover from the past? The two storylines collide at the end as all is revealed. Intriguing, but not wholly captivating. 

Friday, January 14, 2022

The Stars Are Not Yet Bells

 


Assadi, Hannah Lilith. The Stars Are Not Yet Bells. digital. 2021. Penguin Random House Audio.

A vivid and lyrical novel exploring the mind of a woman suffering from dementia in her old age. Elle and her husband Simon were sent to Lyra Island by Simon's wealthy father to explore the mysterious blue lights around the island and discover if they really harbor minerals with mystical properties. Decades later, Elle's mind is no longer her own and she can't tell the difference from the past and the present; her life is becoming a jumble of memories. She starts to fixate on the one thing her life that got away - her true love, Gabriel. But where has he gone? Why is Elle's life in such disarray and what has happened to Simon's family's business? Beautiful, heartbreaking prose takes readers deep inside Elle's mind as she tries to piece together the timeline of her tumultuous life. Haunting, seductive, and enchanting. Narrator, Hillary Huber, does a perfect execution of Elle's disarrayed thoughts and narrative. Poetic and enchanting - this story will stay with readers long after they've finished the novel.  - Erin Cataldi, Johnson Co. Public Library, Franklin, IN

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

The Christmas Pig


Not my favorite JK Rowling book by any stretch. Don't get me wrong it's unique and inventive but it also seems to be trying too hard. Also, I expected it to be a lot more Christmassy based off the title and the cover but really it was a kids fantasy adventure. When a young boy loses his beloved toy on Christmas Eve he discovers that he can travel to the Land of the Lost to try and recover his beloved DP (a horrible name). The Christmas Pig, a sad replacement for the toy he lost, takes him to this mysterious land full of lost things and they most go on a quest and try to evade the scary Loser who tries to destroy lost things. It's ok. Kids would enjoy hearing this as a bedtime story but it's nothing to write home about. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

A Heart Adrift


Giving a man a second chance - especially when he's given his heart to the sea, is a risk. But ever since Captain Henri Lennox has returned to Indigo Island - Esmee is torn asunder. Ten years ago she and him were romantically involved, but she gave him an ultimatum - the sea or her and he chose the sea. It's approaching the winter of 1755 and war is looming with France. Esmee is content to be an unwed woman and work in her family's chocolate shop. She finds fulfillment supporting the almshouse and reading. But when Henri shows up - her heart yearns for a different path. Can they make something work this time or will it be more of the same? An inspirational novel about second chances, faith, and following ones heart. Well researched historical fiction that will move hearts and minds.

Monday, January 10, 2022

The Leopard is Loose


Harrigan, Stephen. The Leopard is Loose. digital. 2021. Penguin Random House Audio. 

Five year old, Grady McClarty, is about to have one of the most tumultuous and momentous summers of his young life. Post World War II Oklahoma City is fraught with racial tensions and a false sense of tranquility. When it's announced that a leopard has escaped from the local zoo, the city is gripped with fear and excitement. Grady and his older brother are equal parts terrified and intrigued, while their two uncles are excited at the prospect of bagging the wild animal. World War II may have ended before Grady was born but he can feel the effects all around him even if he can't understand it. His widowed mother, Bethie, is still grieving and fearful for her sons and his two uncles are erratic and suffering from alcoholism and PTSD, yet still determined to act as father figures for their nephews. Told through the na├»ve and youthful view of a five year old, The Leopard is Loose, tells what it's like to start viewing the world through a new lens. The underbelly of segregation, WWII trauma, family dynamics, and the complexity of right versus wrong are digested piece by piece by Grady, who is the heart and soul of the novel. Wonderfully narrated by George Guidall, whose distinct voice brings an authenticity and energy to young Grady. A coming of age novel that is filled with humanity, grief, possibility, and hope. - Erin Cataldi, Johnson Co. Public Library, Franklin, IN

Friday, January 7, 2022

She Drives Me Crazy


A cute lesbian romcom for teens. Would make a great teen movie! Scottie is having a hard time her senior year. Her girlfriend transferred to their rival high school and dumped her. When they play each other on the basketball court Scottie barely holds it together. To make matters worse the popular cheerleader that's bullied Scottie in the past, backs into her car and the two girls get roped into carpooling with each other. Scottie and Irene can't stand each other, but Scottie thinks she has a plan to get back at her ex girlfriend and drive up attendance at her basketball games. If she can pay Irene to fake date her in exchange for paying the insurance deductible on the damaged car - she might turn around her senior year. Heartfelt, messy, and fun. Teenage hormones go wild in this cute enemies to lovers romcom. Good fun all around. 

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Dry


This book was gripping from the get go. From page one, I was thirsty and paranoid. Dry is terrifying in that THIS COULD HAPPEN! We're already slowly killing our environment (some would argue, not that slowly)and Dry shows what would happen if part of the country ran out of water. At first a mild panic sets in, but then you think this won't last, help is coming. It can't be that bad. But as the hours drag on and the death toll starts rising, everyone turns into animals. Water is something we all take for granted, but without it death is imminent. Told through the perspectives of five teenagers trying to navigate their way through this crisis and survive, Dry is downright scary. It's a dystopian novel that could happen tomorrow. In that regard it's very similar to Ashfall by Mike Mullin, in which the eruption of a super volcano turns the US into an apocalyptic nightmare. These things could happen. Read this with a bottle of water. For your own safety.

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Cheer Up: Love and Pom Poms


A graphic novel for teens about authenticity, defying expectations, and standing up for your friends. It's short and sweet and highlights the growing friendship of Annie, an anti-social, mean girl who is being forced to join the cheerleading teem and Bebe, a trans girl who just wants to make sure everyone is happy and comfortable around her - even at the expense of her feelings. This book manages to convey the importance of speaking up for yourself and supporting those who are different from you, not because they are different, but because they are human too, without being preachy or droll. While the two girls are becoming friends they discover that their emotions might run a little deeper. Cute, charming, and wholesome. 

A Man Called Ove

 


*Updated Review* 

When I first read this book I gave it 2 stars/ Ove was too much of a curmudgeons for me and I did not care for his character at all. I also listened to the audiobook version and I wonder if that had something to do with my low rating. Upon reading it again, I was much more emotional. I didn't hate Ove quite so much and I even shed some tears. It could be because I'm pregnant and hormonal or it could be that I'm at a better place in my life to enjoy this book about a stubborn old man so set in his ways it takes an army of strangers to snap him out of his funk. For the second time around, I will rank this book 3.5 stars. 

Backman, Fredrik. A Man Called Ove. 8 CDs. unabridged. 9 hrs 9 mins. Dreamscape Media. 2014. ISBN 9781629239804. 

A Man Called Ove, the first novel from Swedish breakout novelist, Fredrik Backman, has found immediate worldwide success and quickly became an international bestseller. A stereotypical grumpy old man, Ove, finds his quiet solitude changing when a young family moves in next door. Ove is the kind of man that yells at kids to get off his lawn and is the bane of the local resident's association. He may come across as gruff and bitter but behind the unpleasant exterior there is a dignified man with a story of love and heartbreak. The young couple next door and a scruffy cat may be the perfect combination to  break Ove out of his shell and to help him truly start living. This adorable tale may start painstakingly slow but quickly gathers speed as Ove's neighbors start testing his patience and breaking him out of his sad routine. The English edition of the audiobook, is narrated beautifully by the talented voice and film actor, George Newbern. Witty and full of heart this is a tale that readers of all ages will enjoy.​ - Erin Cataldi, Johnson County Public Library, Franklin, IN​