Wednesday, March 22, 2023
Second Time Around
When Mallory discovers that she has inherited her grandmother's seaside tourist shop she takes it as a sign to take a leap of faith. The last of her children has flown the coop and marries - and she is eager for a clean slate. Mallory is a designer and the thought of renovating the little shop and apartment above it is exciting and fresh. She decides to sell her beautiful old Victorian and move to Portside to open a home décor shop and interior design business. It's not all smooth sailing though. A developer wants to buy her out and tear it down to be build a mall AND she's having trouble finding contractors to do the work she needs. Has she bitten off more than she can chew? Along the way she reconnects with childhood friends, a former crush, and re-ignites her passion for design. A perfect inspirational read for lovers of HGTV and Hallmark.
Monday, March 20, 2023
Redwood and Ponytail
Told in prose - this middle grade novel explores two girls growing feelings for each other. Kate is a prim and perfect cheerleader. She's popular and has her sights set on being cheer captain. Tam is a volleyball star - she has one best friend and but knows everyone. She doles out high fives like it's going out of style. When the two notice each other for the first time they wonder how it was possible they've never met before. A few casual conversations turns into lunch hangouts, texting, and then seeing each other play at games. The two become inseparable. And as they do their friendship starts to deepen into a little more. But is that what they both want? Emotional and wonderful - a great coming of age story about the complications of discovering your true identity.
My Life as a Potato
This was a laugh out loud fun middle grade read. Ben Hardy is pretty positive that he's been cursed by potatoes. His parents have moved away from the California beach to the potato capital of Idaho. And after a cafeteria game gone wrong Ben discovers that he has to be the new middle school mascot. A spud. The potato curse strikes again. He knows that life will be over as he knows it if any of his new friends find out about his new "job" so he keeps it under wraps. But lying to his friends is hard and who knows when the potato curse will strike again. A quick, funny, read, that also has some fun illustrations.
Thursday, March 16, 2023
Before the Ever After
Told in prose - this middle grade novel is full of heartbreak and hope. Set in the early 2000s, this novel follows one boy and his fathers worsening CTE (although in this book they don't know what his dad has yet). ZJ has always been proud of his dad, he's a superhero and as far as he's concerned he's the best pro-football player in the world. But lately he's been acting weird. He keeps repeating the same things, getting angry and forgetful; he's losing his old dad. Since his dad's headaches have progressively worsened, he's stopped playing football and he's not practicing with his team. Some days he can't even leave his darkened room. ZJ takes comfort in his three best friends, his mom's strength, and music. Beautiful and captivating.
Tuesday, March 14, 2023
The Light Pirate
I am really starting to get into cli-fi aka climate dystopians! The Light Pirate chronicles the life of a young girl who was born during a horrible, life altering hurricane. Delirious and dying her mother named her after the hurricane itself and Wanda grows up in a world much different than that of her parents. Hurricane seasons get longer and longer and Florida is barely hanging on. It is slowly reverting back to its swampy ways and the United States is ready to cut its tether to it. Her father is a lineman - one of the people who keeps the power on - but with the near constant hurricanes - how much longer is that even feasible? Wanda's best friend and mentor is a woman who lives down the street and has spent her life preparing for this exact eventuality. Known as a survivalist - if anyone can withstand what is coming it's her. This book felt more real than not and as Venice keeps sinking and the sea level keeps rising - who knows what is in store for Florida during my lifetime. A unique and captivating read!
Friday, March 10, 2023
Laugh out loud funny - this memoir is a riot. Laura Belgray unabashedly shares her highs and lows in this candid memoir. Advice on how to life your life is always conflicting and always sucks - Laura's memoir, is proof that being that being 100% you is always worth it (even when it sucks). From a sordid two year affair with her salsa instructor to post college "networking" at bars (rather than looking for jobs) to always arriving late at everything - Laura's comedic writing will win readers over with it's candor and hilarity. There is no right way to do anything. We just do the best we can with what God gave us and hope for the best. Despite the cover and sub-title this is not at all a self help book. It's a collection of humorous essays about growing up as a wealthy Jewish woman in New York City and if readers happen to glean some important truths from those stories then more power to them!
Tuesday, March 7, 2023
A gut wrenching memoir about trying to find familial love and acceptance despite a toxic and turbulent upbringing. Often ditched at his "grandparents" house because of his mother's crack addiction, Joey was forced to mature early and make space for himself in a household filled with toxic masculinity, hunger, drugs, and sexual activity. With roaches invading every conceivable space, the fridge nearly always empty, and vitriol being thrown his way; Joseph retreated into the worlds of anime and video games - trying to make sense of his life through their fantasy. Sink is told through a series of poignant vignettes - each more unsettling and upsetting than the next. It's a brutal, violent, deprecating childhood that will shock many listeners, yet nestled within the book there is hope and humor. Joey managed to survive and eventually thrive despite the odds being stacked against him as a poor, young, Black boy in Philadelphia. Narrated beautifully by the author himself - this audiobook may be a painful listen but it's necessary. Sink is fantastically written and eloquent in its despair and dysfunction; a rose amongst the thorns. The language and writing style elevate the story into a memoir that is truly a work of art.
Friday, March 3, 2023
The End of October
This book reminded me so much of the first part of Stephen King's The Stand. It was riveting! Even though it was very science heavy, I really enjoyed this book. After living through covid - it felt very real and possible. A microbiologist dismisses one of his colleagues findings about an odd virus that played itself out in an internment camp in Indonesia. Henry Parsons decides to make a quick trip out there himself to see what's going on. What he finds instead is a hot zone - a hot zone that will soon cripple the whole world and bring the super powers close to launching all out war. The story follows the spread of the virus and the escalation of war. It gets a little slow towards the end and I had no idea how the book would finish it - but I enjoyed it. Listening to suspenseful music while reading this - definitely help put me on edge!
Tuesday, February 28, 2023
The Outcasts of Poker Flat
I picked this title solely because one of the narrators is Robert Forester and I am obsessed with anything he narrates. The Outcasts of Poker Flats is a collection of short stories and poems set in the wild west. An unlucky party caught in a mountain blizzard, an orphaned baby in an all male camp, Tennessee's partner and more. I was not overly impressed with any of the stories glamorizing, miners, gamblers, and lawless men. This collection was written in the nineteenth century which explains the machismo and degradation of women, but doesn't excuse it. Some of the narrators did no favors to this audiobook. I honestly may have enjoyed it more had I actually read it.
The Book Hater's Book Club
My assumption (based off the title and the cover) was that this would be about a book club. It was not in fact about a book club, rather it was about a bookstore. Irma, has demanded that her both her daughters and her partner's spouse attend a meeting. At the meeting they are blindsided when they discover that their mother has sold the beloved bookstore that she opened with her partner nearly 30 years before. Not only has she sold it, she has sold it for a pittance and now her daughter, Bree, will have to find a job. Laney has lived far away from Minnesota for twenty years, but Bree never left and worked in the store. Why is their mom doing this? The sisters decide to get to the bottom of this horrible deal and partner up with Elliot's spouse to get to the bottom of it. A story about family, friendships, grief, and finding that perfect book. A quick read that is witty and wholesome.
Monday, February 27, 2023
In the same vein as Shirley Jackson and Margret Atwood, this dystopian novel has a lot to say about motherhood and identity. High in the mountains lay an isolated community where every so often a mother would disappear. It was quite common, in fact it was expected. Some mornings the women all woke up and felt themselves pulled along until they came to the house of whomever had disappeared. A father clutching his children would come outside and the women would go in and remove every trace of her, all her personal items would be taken to the op shop - all her photos and anything written in her hand would be burned. Soon she would be forgotten. When Vera is young, her mother is one of the ones who disappeared. She settled into a solitary routine with her father and two friends until one day a stranger came to town. Not once in her lifetime had someone other than Mr. Phillips (their supplier) come to town. Can the stranger be trusted? What does it mean. For Vera, everything will change. Weird, unique, and affecting.
Thursday, February 23, 2023
Discover Your True North
While this book isn't super relevant to me or my career - it did give me good ideas for leading where I am. I am no CEO, but there is good advice in here and there are plenty of examples of professionals who readers can learn from. From failures to successes, Bill George includes great examples of some of the best leaders in the world. I am not even a middle manager and I have only managed interns, so a lot isn't applicable to my career. But maybe someday that will change and I will remember the lessons learned from this book. I will definitely keep this book on my book shelf and hope to refer to it again someday!
Wednesday, February 22, 2023
I think I mostly love this series because the narrator (Robert Forester) is so compelling. He could read a dictionary and I would be enthralled. Stone Cold is the fourth novel in the Jesse Stone series. Personally, I have only read the third one and the fourth one but these really do act as standalone novels so I don't feel like I am missing out on anything. Jesse Stone tackles his most challenging case yet - tracking down a pair of serial killers that love to kill together. As the murders keep rising in Paradise - the pressure mounts on Jesse. Can he find them? Can he stay sober? Compelling, but not surprising - the characters are more important than the plot. I am even more intrigued to check out the movie adaptations now.
Tuesday, February 21, 2023
The Maid of Ballymacool
Reminiscent of Cinderella's fairy tale but set in Ireland in the nineteen thirties. All Brianna has ever known of life is hard work and loneliness. Forced to toil from sun up to midnight with only one afternoon a week off to look forward to is a bit overwhelming. As an orphan she was raised in the Ballymacool Boarding House for young ladies, but not as a proper young lady, only as a maid. When a handsome young man comes to stay on the property to look after his cousin, Brianne's head turns and soon her heart follows. The headmistress does everything in her power to keep Brianna under her thumb and away from the wealthy young man - but the two are drawn together and soon they may uncover the mystery of Ballymacool Manor. Slightly predictable but wholesome. Inspiration and historical fiction fans will greatly enjoy.
Saturday, February 18, 2023
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow
I'm kicking myself for waiting so long to read this book! Once I started I became totally engrossed in Sam and Sadie's lives. The ups and downs of their relationship felt so real and raw. Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow is about how two friends have the most intimate friendship through video games. As kids it brought them solace and as college students it gives them purpose. Together with the help of Sam's roommate, Marx, they put the best of themselves into coding a game that will forever change and entangle their lives. This book is so hard to describe because on the surface, it's about three friends and video games - but it is so much more complex and nuanced than that. Ignore everything I've said and do yourself a favor and read this book. It doesn't need a description - it's just that good.
Thursday, February 16, 2023
The Romanov Ransom
To me this had the least amount of treasure or historical intrigue - but it did have a lot of adventure and it had believable bad guys (in comparison to the normal 2 dimensional thugs they usually square off against). The Fargos get a call that one of their employees has nephews that have gone off grid and could be in trouble. Sam and Remi decide to go to Morocco to investigate and in the process find themselves on the hunt for the Romanov Ransom. The problem is - they aren't the only ones looking for it. Slightly predictable - but always entertaining!
Monday, February 13, 2023
What happens when Jasmine chooses the bad boy Jafar over Ali? Lots of down and dirty action, threesomes, and sex dungeons - that's what! This book is scorching hot - mix 50 Shades of Gray with Aladdin and you have this steaming hot erotica. Admittedly the book is set in the modern day and there is no flying carpets or magic genies - but you still have the same people and the same power dynamics (Jasmine will always be trapped in a palace). The plot is eh, the romance is eh - but the sex is pretty great - which who are we kidding that's the whole reason people are reading this. This book is the first in the wicked villains series and introduces us to some other key players for later on in the series (Meg and Hades, Hook, etc.). Again the plot is questionable but the scenes are spicy. I may read more in the series when I have free time.
Dark One: Forgotten
Bestselling fantasy author, Brandon Sanderson, teams up with Dan Wells to create a fun listen in the style of a true crime podcast. Written exclusively for audiobook - this short mystery takes place over the course of several podcast episodes - with the intrigue ramping up every episode. College student, Christina Walsh, discovers a CD of world-renowned violinist Leona McPherson, who mysteriously disappeared and was found murdered years prior. After her father's disappearance, this case really hits home and Christina decides to take her best friend, Sophie, along for a cross country adventure to re-discover this missing musician. With each new discovery the case gets wilder and stranger and soon the two may be in danger themselves. It appears as if no one remembers Leona, not one person! If it wasn't for the mountain of evidence proving that she was a real person - the girls would think they were being pranked. Even Leona's own mother has no recollection of her daughter! What exactly have these two stumbled upon and will the world ever be the same again? Narrated by a full cast - this audiobook is fresh and fun. It is fast paced, unique, and gripping. It's a wild ride that will find a wide audience for Brandon Sanderson fans, podcast junkies, and true crime devotees. - Erin Cataldi
Thursday, February 9, 2023
Bipolar Bear and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Health Insurance
Don't get me wrong - the message is important and I understand the struggle - but if you're are already having to deal with our shitty insurance why do you want to read a graphic novel about a badly drawn bear who is going through the same shit as you are?! There were a few comedic scenes but honestly... not my jam. It definitely highlights how broken our system is but it doesn't do much more than that.
I actually learned a lot from this book and not just about women and booze - I learned a lot about the history of alcohol and was super intrigued throughout the whole book. Mallory O'Meara does an excellent job of giving readers the history of women and booze while also highlighting some extremely influential women along the way. There were so many interesting tid bits about how alcohol was made - where customs and laws came from - and of course - how women got the short end of the stick time and time again. Women do not get nearly enough credit for their impact and are even now still overshadowed by their male counterpoints. I think this book is important for anyone who likes learning about history and drinking. A fun and extremely enlightening read!
Monday, February 6, 2023
The Paris Wife
This book kept me hooked and kept me reading and I loved the literary appeal but my god I hated all the characters. I've often read about what a dick Ernest Hemmingway was and this book really painted an unflattering portrait of him. I don't care how great his work is - what a jerk. I didn't know much about his personal life so this book was all fresh to me. Told through Hemmingway's wife, Hadley Richardson's, perspective - The Paris Wife showcases how she loved and supported him during his early career. She met him in Chicago and they had a whirlwind long distance romance and decided to marry and move to Paris where he could really work on becoming an author. It was pretty much all downhill from there. Hadley was a boring woman with hardly any interests whose full time job was to cater to her husband's needs. She seemed extremely boring and totally enabled Ernest whenever he made bad choices (and there were a lot). I was especially angry by the end. I would have given this book a 1.5 or a 2 but it was written well. I just hated every damn character so much. It's crazy that this was based off of a real relationship.
Monday, January 30, 2023
The Rose and the Thistle
Slow moving historical romance between the daughter of a duke and a Scottish Laird. Lady Blythe is forced to go into hiding when her father is declared an enemy of the crown for supporting Jacobites. With nowhere to go - her father arranges for her to go to the estate of her godparents in Scotland. She arrives to find that her godfather has just died (her godmother years prior) and the eldest son is none to pleased to be harboring an English lass with questionable family ties. He decides to hide her in plain sight as a tutor for his youngest brother. Soon the two find themselves being thrown together and enjoying their verbal sparring. Could love be in the air? They must be careful though - for there are spies everywhere and if he is caught harboring an enemy of the state they could both lose their vast fortunes. Slow paced, but fans of inspirational romance will like this slow burn filled with historical intrigue.
Death in Paradise
I picked up this audiobook as a whim. My library didn't own the first two in the series - but what the hell. Gotta live a little. I will also admit I have never seen any of the movies based off this series so I really was going in cold!
The narrator really made this book for me. His accent was magnificent and I could listen to this man read a phonebook. In my mind he was Jesse Stone. Anyways, Jesse Stone is an alcoholic cop who was fired from his homicide detective job in California and ended up taking a police chief gig across the country in little old Paradise. Wherever his ex-wife goes he will follow; he is convinced someday they will get back together. Luckily for him - she still loves him... just not enough to settle back down with him. When a body of a young girl turns up, Stone must get creative to find the killer. Leisurely paced detective mystery with lots of talk of drinking, relationships, and baseball. I liked this a lot more than I anticipated and will check out the next book in the series!
Tuesday, January 24, 2023
Her Heart's Desire
This Amish romance was a nice change of pace as it took place on a beach! Most Amish books I read take place in either Ohio or Indiana so it was nice to see Pinecraft Florida take center stage. Mary Margaret Miller needs to get away from Trail, Ohio. She has been teased and bullied her whole life and has no friends. She has saved up for a solo trip to Pinecraft, Florida (an area that caters to Amish families) and she is looking forward to a chance to re-charge and re-invent herself. On the long bus ride down she meets two other Amish wallflowers who are doing the same thing as her. All three have been lonely and looked down on so they immediately latch onto each other and become the best of friends. A few days into their fun Mary learns that one of the girls who bullied her from her hometown is coming to Pinecraft and even staying in the same Inn! There goes her fun and relaxing vacation! Obviously there is a little romance thrown in as well. Lots of fun and I can't wait to read the next books in the series!
Sunday, January 22, 2023
A little slow at first - but I quickly became invested in the story the creepier it got. When Kari James is gifted an old bracelet that belonged to her mother, shit starts to go sideways real fast. Though she is an indigenous woman- Kari would describe herself as an urban Indian - preferring sex, drugs, and rock and roll in the city to any other traditions. Her mother disappeared at two days old and her father was in an accident soon after that caused a serious brain injury - so Kari was essentially orphaned - only having her cousin Debby. But the bracelet is causing her to have visions of her mother - terrifying visions and Kari realizes that if she wants the visions to stop she is going to have to find out what happened to her mother. Dark and gritty - this was an exciting read. I hope this author writes more!
Friday, January 20, 2023
This was a quick read but I did enjoy it. This would be perfect for kids or teens who are into dystopian fiction like Ashfall and Not a Drop to Drink. I also liked this teen novel a lot because it was in verse and had a female protagonist. Alone is the story of a 12 year old girl who tricks her parents into thinking she is staying some place she isn't for a sleepover and as a result gets left behind in a massive evacuation. When she awakes the next day there is no one left in the town. She saves the neighbors dog and together they learn what it will take to survive in Colorado with no electricity or fresh food. She's hopeful that her family will come back for her once they realize she was gone - but no one is coming back. What imminent threat was there? A good survival story.
Thursday, January 19, 2023
The Princess and the Scoundrel
Not quite what I was expecting. Based on the cover I was expecting some smutty Han and Leia fanfiction - but there wasn't really much romance in this book. The book opens with the two of them getting married and then going on their honeymoon. In true Leia fashion, she treats their honeymoon like a diplomatic mission and hopes to show the galaxy that the New Republic is thriving and doing well. Really though - they know that the Empire isn't really defeated - just because Darth Vader is dead doesn't mean the Empire has stopped functioning. Their honeymoon ends up turning into an adventure - nothing ever is what it seems. Meh - a little slow and not nearly enough romance for me!
Tuesday, January 17, 2023
The Book Woman's Daughter
This was so close to a 5 for me - but I think that had more to do with the narration than anything else. Katie Schorr is divine and her southern accent, indignation, laughter, and levity was perfect for this book. This book is a sequel to The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek but can also be read as a standalone. Honey Lovett is the daughter of the infamous blue skinned Kentucky packhorse librarian. At 16 her parents are imprisoned and Honey finds herself in a pickle. If she is caught she will be sent away to the children's workhouse, but what will she have to do to remain free? Well for starters she is going to have to go back to Troublesome Creek and rely on the people her mama used to serve. In the process she will reconnect with some folks who are almost as close as family, and make new friends. Set in the beautiful Kentucky mountains this book is full of adventure, bigotry, abuse, friendship, and justice. A wonderful listen.
Thursday, January 12, 2023
Beyond the Wand
I like to think that I am a Slytherin at heart - although my favorite Slytherin was not in fact Draco, it was his dad. My god the hair on him, have you ever seen anything sexier. Sorry where was I? Oh yes - this book. I'll read anything that slightly even refers to Harry Potter so of course I knew I had to read this and I am so glad I did. Draco may not have been my favorite character - but it was so nice to get to learn more about him and his life. Getting an inside glimpse into the Harry Potter movies was obviously my main draw, but reading Beyond the Wand was like getting to meet a new friend. I learned a lot about Tom Felton and have a new appreciation for his career and him as a person - he seems like a pretty swell fellow. A nice read and I can't wait to continue to follow his career!
Monday, January 9, 2023
The Song of Achilles
WONDERFUL!!!!!! This author is off the chain! I read Circe earlier this year and was blown away. The Song of Achilles (her first novel) is also out of this world incredible. The amount of detail and character building and setting is insane. I absolutely loved this. As you can guess by the title, this novel is about Achilles; the interesting part though is that it is told through the perspective of Patroclus, his best friend, companion, and lover. All I knew about Patroclus was from the movie Troy, and of course it was totally Hollywoodized because there was no way they were going to make Achilles (played by Brad Pitt) GAY! In ancient Greek times?!? Gays?!?!?! The travesty! Seriously though, it was super common and probably less of a deal than it is in our modern times. Patroclus grows up as an exiled prince in Achilles' fathers' home. They become very close, much to Thetis' chagrin (Achilles mother who is a goddess). The prophecy says that he will be the greatest fighter in the world but if he goes to Troy... he will die. Will their love triumph or will Achilles desire to go down in history persevere? Included in this story are many other great Greek heroes and gods; Odysseus, Hector, Paris, Helen of Troy. It's all the cool stuff you learned in school about mythology and then forgot. Madeline Miller does a superb job weaving this story together to make it real, emotional, and relevant. I'm in love with this book.
Saturday, January 7, 2023
I don't think I have read Beowulf since high school so this was a real treat - I LOVED this translation. Bro, fuck this shit, #blessed, you had me at the start. Minus the few words I just said - it doesn't read too modern - it's certainly no longer in Old English, but it doesn't feel "too" modern - just a touch. I also loved the introduction, Maria Dahvana Headley seems like one cool motherf-er and I would love to hang out with her. I mean, hell, she named her kid Grimoire! I am not a scholar - but I appreciated learning more about the history behind different translations and it was nice to re-visit this classic.
Wednesday, January 4, 2023
Legends and Lattes
What's better than a fantasy novel centered on a coffeeshop!?!? Talk about world building that I can get behind. When Viv, a battle hardened orc has finally saved up enough coin, she decides to put down her blade and venture to a new city to open a coffee shop. It doesn't matter to her that no one has ever heard of coffee or that she knows nothing about running a business - it's what she wants to do, and by golly she is going to do it. She soon assembles a motley crew to help build and run the joint - a succubus to tend the counter, a hob to build the shop, and a rattkin to bake the goods. It's a bit of a bumpy ride as they all get their bearings, it is after unchartered territory they are entering in - but a certain magic (or is it just the coffee?!) seems to be binding them together. I so hope there are more books set in this universe!
A quirky man destined to be single forever - stumbles upon a wonderful woman who likes him for who he is (a weirdo) and together they create a wonderful life, having 2 children together. In his retirement he decides to surprise his wife Tina with a dog, something she has wanted for years, but he has been reluctant to get because he's sure that dogs are not for him. Lo and behold their little rescue, Lady, wins him over and he becomes an instant dog person. She gets special kibble, long walks, doggie outfits, and all the treats she could ever want. He and Tina even create an elaborate backstory for Lady and give her a ridiculous voice. When Tina dies, what will happen to Lady? The ending is like something out of a Stephen King novel. Not unexpected, but extremely messed up.
Tuesday, January 3, 2023
Award winning Scandinavian author, Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir, writes a breathtakingly beautiful little novel that reflects on midwifery, family, nature, and finding the light. Dómhildur is a midwife, continuing a long family tradition of helping bring life into the world. Her great-aunt was so proud of her that she bequeathed Dómhildurher her apartment in Reykjavík after her death. As Christmas approaches, so too does the winter forecast worsen. While Dómhildurher rummages through her aunt’s things looking for Christmas décor and she stumbles across a box full of manuscripts, editorials, postcards, and letters. Within the pages is mix of musings on animal life, midwifery practices over the past century, and the reflections of her great-aunt. Ann Richardson narrates with a slow steady cadence, that eases readers into the poetic Icelandic prose. While not “plot heavy,” the impending Christmas storm serves as a dark backdrop for the light found within the pages. For fans of Scandinavian literature. – Erin Cataldi