Friday, October 28, 2022

We are the Light

No one writes more compassionaly about mental health in fiction, better than Matthew Quick, the New York Times bestselling author of The Silver Linings Playbook. We are the Light follows, Lucas Goodgame as he attempts to deal with his grief by writing letters to his Jungian analyst, Karl. Lucas' hometown theater, The Majestic, was the target of a horrific crime that killed his wife and nearly twenty others. While he may have been the one to stop the monster, he still feels lacking, like he should have done more. He insists his wife, in the form of an angel, visits him nightly, and his grip on reality seems to be loosening. When Eli, a teenager shunned by the community, starts camping out in his backyard Lucas starts to open up and fins a reason to move forward. By working together and creating a monster movie they hope not to heal just themselves, but the town as well. Passionately narrated by Luke Kirby, this tale of hope, loss, and grief will move readers nearly to tears. Despite dealing with many tragedies; PTSD, trauma, suicide, mass shooting – We are the Light is a story about healing and finding guardian angels in the most unlikely of places. Moving and unfortunately, timely. 

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Anything But Plain

I genuinely enjoy a good Amish tale and this was the right amount of fluff. There are slight misunderstandings that get turned into disasters, crossed wires, meddling old mothers, and "forbidden" romance. Lydie Stolzfus feels she has to leave the Amish order - she doesn't fit in. She's been fired from more jobs then she can count, she's impulsive, forgetful, and can never finish a task without starting 4 others first. She feels like she's a disappointment to everyone - especially to her family and the boy she's loved since she was a kinner, Nathan. The local doctor has offered to let Lydie be a temporary secretary and she seizes the job as it gets her out of the house and away from her meddling grandma and it gives her time to prepare to leave the order. While there the doctor observes Lydie's behavior and realizes that she must be suffering from adult ADHD - it makes so much sense. But is it too late to do anything about it? The parallel storyline is told through Nathan's perspective and how he deals with his father splitting the farm in half and allowing each of his sons to decide how best to farm it. Mick wants all the chemicals sprayed on his fields and Nathan wants to try his hand at organic. Which will do better?? Predictable, sweet, and a good read.  

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

The Solomon Curse

I liked this one a lot more than most because it wasn't some typical bad guy out to thwart the Fargos and steal the treasure first. It's just some rich CEO working with rebels to nationalize the Solomon Islands that happens to be getting in the way of the Fargos - which doesn't sound like much but it was a nice change. I also liked one of the new characters introduced, a Russian archaeologist who enlists the Fargos help when he discovers what appears to be a sunken city. The treasure hunt leads the team through several points in history - not just ancient times, which is interesting. A breath of fresh air in a series where the plots start to become stale. Genuinely excited for the next in the series. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Slash Them All

I went into this book blind, but I ended up really digging it. It's dark eerie and has total 80s slasher vibes. Teens start getting brutally murdered in a nice beachside town, and the town descends into chaos. Three friends, each with their own secrets react to the deaths of their classmates in different ways, but really they just seem to ignore it. It's not like their going to be murdered. But when more people end up missing, Pola sees something she can't unsee. Evil really has this town in its grips and she is helpless to do anything about it. Or is she? Fantast illustrations. I really enjoyed this graphic novel. 

Monday, October 24, 2022

Roar of the Sea

Admittedly a hard read, especially if you don't like reading about animal violence - but truly an important one. I had no idea about the plight of fur seals and the efforts undertaken at the turn of the nineteenth century to save them. Roar of the Sea is part history and part biographies for two dashing men; Henry Wood Elliot, an amateur scientist who by chance went to the Pribilof Islands and fell in love with the fur seals and set about studying them and Alex MacLean, a pirate who specialized in illegally killing seals and selling their pelts. Elliot spent his whole life trying to save the fur seals while MacLean spent his life trying to undermine Elliot and turn a handsome profit. Maclean was s notorious he was even inspiration for Jack London's famed novel, The Sea Wolf. Elliot on the other hand was constantly belittled and challenged by government officials who sought to discredit him in order to keep slaughter tens of thousands of fur seals a year. In mere years the Pribilof Islands had lost more than half their millions of seals and if actions weren't taken they would soon be extinct. A little tedious at times, and definitely violent - but an important enlightening read. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Taming the Potted Beast

Plant aficionados will delight in the entertaining history behind their favorite houseplants while learning some botanical tips along the way. From the Neolithic age to the tulip craze to social media, Molly Williams explores when plants first started living indoors as companions and shares how they have evolved (and disappeared) over the centuries. Greenhouses, terrariums, and fertilizers have all brought forth new waves of indoor garden enthusiasts. Through the centuries the gardening fads may have changed, but people seem to love greening up their indoor space in new and innovative ways. Narrated by the author herself, this audiobook is a delightful listen, though having the physical book may be handy for those who have trouble spelling the scientific name of the plants mentioned and for seeing the illustrations. The end of the book contains leafy legacy botanical activities for readers to do; from Bonsai trees to hanging plants and terracotta pots – all the gardening tips tie back in with the previously discussed houseplants. Part microhistory, part tips and tricks, this book is great for beginners and experts. A great read for all those who love their flora.

The Love Hypothesis

Why did I wait so long to read this?! I loved every second of this book. I thought Christina Lauren and Emily Henry were my favorite romance authors but Ali Hazelwood is a serious contender now! This romantic comedy is set in academia and is nerdy and fun without ever taking away from the romance or going to overboard. Olive is desperate for her best friend to date Jeremy, her ex, because those two are perfect for each other and Olive never even liked him. But her best friend, Anh, won't even consider it because she think Olive still has feelings for him. Olive concocts a fake dating scheme with hard ass professor and researcher, Dr. Carlsen, just to get Anh off her ass. And it works! But now Olive and Dr. Carlsen are in a weird position, how long to fake date for? Filled with all the tropes but done in such a new and fun way, this romance is a slow burn with plenty of spice. I ate it up. Give me more!

Thursday, October 13, 2022

Have I Told You This Already?

Graham, Lauren. Have I Told You This Already?: Stories I Don’t Want to Forget to Remember. digital. 2022.

Beloved Gilmore Girls actress, Lauren Graham, returns to the publishing world with another fun collection of humorous essays chronicling her career, wellness camps, puppies, aging, and more. Known for her fast-talking humor, candor, and comical view of the world - this collection of essays will appeal to many female readers. Filled with anecdotes, directing advice, shoplifting, eyebrow woes, and more - this isn't just your average trash celebrity memoir, although there is some fun name dropping and Hollywood stories. Have I Told You This Already is a light-hearted look behind the curtain into the life and mind of one of the most down to earth celebrities in this day and age. Narrated by the actress herself, readers are in for a treat with Lauren’s comedic timing, jovial voice, and candid “we could be friends” attitude. A light-hearted essay collection that really shines because of the expert narration and is well worth a listen. 

- Erin Cataldi, Johnson Co. Public Library, Franklin, IN

Empty Smiles

A solid ending to this series that is genuinely creepy at moments. I wish the book were a little longer though - it felt rushed at the end and was just... over. I was not mentally prepared for that because there was still sixty pages left in the book so I thought I had a lot more story left, alas those extra pages were just excerpts from the first 3 books. Empty Smiles is about reuniting the gang and getting Ollie away from the Smiling Man who has her captive. Every day Ollie is trapped on a train that turns into a carnival whenever they arrive at a new location. During the day the carnival seems fine, but at night the clowns hunt. When the carnival reaches Ollie's hometown her friends will have a chance to rescue her... if they dare. Fun, great concept, but too short for me. I want more! Can this series continue when the kids get into high school?

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Beneath the Bending Skies

Mollie Sheehan finds herself torn between pleasing her father and following her heart. As a woman in mid nineteenth century Montana she doesn't have a lot of choices. Especially since her father is constantly moving his family all over the countryside chasing new dreams and business ventures. She, her stepmother, and younger siblings are dutiful and always try to make the best of each situation, but it can be challenging having to start fresh so often. Mollie longs for stability and when she finds Peter Ronan, a journalist with a big heart she is instantly smitten. The only problem is he is her father's friend and she knows he won't bless their union. As expected he forbids their relationship and decides to move his family far away, this time to California. Will their love survive the years? Beneath the Bending Skies is a fictional account of a real woman, which explains why their isn't really a plot to be found. It just describes Mollie's life from the the age of 6 up to her last child (and boy she has a lot of those!). The biggest theme of the novel is trying to win her curmudgeon father over, and that's it. The rest is just the story of one woman as she ages and finds love.

Friday, October 7, 2022

It Ends with Us

FINALLY. This has only been the most hyped up book of the past year or two. It was good... but not THAT good. The message was important, but I think I would have enjoyed this a little more had it not been so hyped up. I felt too much pressure to become obsessed with this book. I thought it did an excellent job portraying what domestic abuse looks like. It's not clear cut, the abuser is often times the person who truly loves you the most - it's hard and complicated and I think It Ends with Us did an amazing job portraying that. The note from the author and the acknowledgments helped bump my rating from a 3.5 to 4 out of 5. 

Lily has worked hard to create a fresh start from her childhood. She left her hometown and fled her parents abusive relationship. When her father dies she is relieved. She'll never live that way and vows to only be with a man who loves her, someone like her childhood love, Atlas. Then she meets Ryle; a talented, sexy neurosurgeon who knows how to make her laugh and he is everything she has wanted in a man. But he may have some baggage of his own and staying with could compromise everything she has worked so hard to achieve. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

The Dollhouse

Eerie and creepy this middle grade read will delight young readers. Alice's summer is not off to a great start. Instead of going to the cottage to kick off her summer break it looks like her parents will be getting a divorce. Her dad has blown them off again and her mom is over it. She packs off Alice and they hop on the train to journey several hours away for her mom to start a new job. An old woman needs a live in nurse and she resides in a big old house so there is plenty of room for Alice too. The house is old and spooky, but really magnificent - it looks as if the house is caught in time. When Alice is snooping around the house she discovers a hidden entrance to the attic in her bedroom and the only thing in the attic is a dollhouse that is the exact replica of the house. When she starts moving the dolls around weird things happen in her dreams and if she's not mistaken there is an extra doll in the dollhouse and it looks exactly like her. A little confusing towards the end, but it's a fun ghost story. 

Monday, October 3, 2022

The Eye of Heaven

The Eye of Heaven takes readers back to Mexico, although this time the Fargos aren't looking for Mayan cities they are looking for evidence of Vikings. After they stumble on a pristinely preserved Viking ship carrying Toltec items - the Fargos know that everything they know about the Vikings is about to change. They actually made it to North America far before Christopher Columbus and had trade routes. What if they can find more proof and maybe the tomb of Quetzalcoatl? I enjoyed that the villain was a little different than normal - it was someone who wasn't after a specific treasure but was just after any treasure that the Fargos would find. Fun and implausible - I will keep reading this series!

Other Birds

Beautiful, enchanting, and engrossing - this sweet book of neighbors, ghosts, and fresh starts was perfect to get me in the mood for Halloween. Slightly paranormal but mostly human drama, Other Birds details the people tied to The Dellawisp, a fun and funky set of townhomes set on Mallow Island. When eighteen year old, Zoey moves into her apartment she immediately sets about getting to know her neighbors. Zoey is looking for a fresh start and the only thing of real value she brought with her is her invisible bird named Pigeon. The living inhabitants of The Dellawisp are Charlotte - a young woman in her twenties who does Henna and seems to be hiding from the world, Lizabeth - a loud angry woman doesn't want anyone or anything making any noise on the property, Lucy - the reclusive older sister of Lizabeth who no one ever sees, Mac - the red headed chef who is nice to look at, and Frasier - the property manager. Each resident has their own ghosts (whether they realize it or not) but the closer they get to each other the less they need their ghosts. A fun and unique story.