Friday, September 22, 2017

The Road Through Wonderland

This was definitely an unsettling, upsetting, and heartbreaking memoir. Dawn Schiller had a rough childhood to say the least. With a deadbeat dad, and lots of crime and drugs she had to grow up very quickly. When she finds herself in California at 15 she meets the enigmatic Porn King, John Holmes (aka Johnny Wadd). He quickly seduces her even though he is already in his mid thirties and she isn't even close to legal. Their relationship quickly escalates and he moves her in to his wife's house to live with them. Things start to spiral out of control quickly though when they start heavily using crack. Not content to just snort it they start freebasing it as well. John's porn career is over and he finds himself heavily in debt as his drug usage mounts. He starts beating Dawn and forces her into prostitution to get more money for drugs. Things take a dark turn when Dawn realizes that he has somehow been involved in a murder in Wonderland. All the reader wants is for Dawn to leave John. He is LITERALLY THE WORST! But that is abuse for you, not only is it physical but mental too. Dark and unreal, the movie version stars Val Kilmer and Kate Bosworth.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Bad Beginning

I'm probably the last person in the world to have started this series. And I've never seen the movie or the Netflix original series. I am seriously late to the game. But! Better late than never! I decided to try out the audiobook because it's narrated by Tim Curry and that is a total no brainer. He has the voice of a god. A terrifying god, but that is what makes him so perfect to take on this darkly funny series. The Bad Beginning introduces to three poor orphans who have just lost their parents in a horrible fire. As if that isn't bad enough the will states they must live with whatever relative is closest and that turns out to be the horrible Count Olaf who has some nasty tricks up his sleeve. The will the orphan's parent's left states that the large inheritance can't be used until the oldest daughter turns of age. But that does nothing to stop dastardly Count Olaf. Witty and dark, this is a fun children's series that I definitely plan on reading more of!

Elizabeth I

I haven't read historical fiction in a minute and I will admit that I was first daunted by the size of this book. However I was quickly captivated and this book was all I could think about. I had to know more! I vaguely remember learning about Queen Elizabeth I in history class, but what did I really know about her, so much was a mystery about her private life.

This 600+ page novel doesn't start during her childhood or even during her early reign. It starts when the Queen is in her mid-fifties and follows her through the end of her rule. It was utterly FASCINATING! The plot is told through the Queen's perspective and through her cousin, Lettice. Together they know an impressive cast of characters; Shakespeare, Francis Bacon, Grace O'Malley and more. I learned so much and was kept utterly charmed. I couldn't believe how wonderfully this was written and how much research the author put in to flesh out the queen's life. I can't wait to read more by this author.

Friday, September 15, 2017

God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater

I definitely appreciated this much more on the second go around. Admittedly it's not my favorite Vonnegut novel, but I still think it's pretty solid... in an off the wall kind of fucked up way. This black comedy satire novel, pokes fun at everything: the wealthy, how Americans view poverty, science fiction, family trees, foundations, and more. Eliot Rosewater is the head of the insanely rich Rosewater Foundation and since he's been head he's been mostly drunk and not altogether sane. He'll write out grants for morphine, poetry, whatever anyone in his crazy community asks for. Shit hits the fan when it turns out that there is another Rosewater relation who might be more legally sane and responsible to take over the foundation since Eliot has no children. It's zany, over the top, and filled with the Vonnegut charm.

The Great Passage

Miura, Shion. The Great Passage. 6 CDs. unabridged. Brilliance Audio. 2017. ISBN 9781536631852. $14.99.

"A dictionary is a ship that crosses the sea of words." In this charming Japanese translation (translated by Juliet Winters Carpenter), an unforgettable cast of characters; eat, breathe, and live words. Their pursuit of the perfect dictionary, The Great Passage, is a long arduous journey but no one seems to mind. While working together they discover, love, friendship, passion, and a sense of purpose. Over the years their passion for lexicography never dims, if anything it only grows stronger as they share their passion with new recruits and employees in the dictionary editorial department. Narrator, Brian Nishi does a wonderful job bringing authenticity and feeling to the forefront, never stumbling over Japanese phrasing and words. His warmth greatly adds to the feeling and charm of the story. A quick, intriguing, and unique story certain to attract readers. Perfect for fans of "A Man Called Ove," literary translations, and heartwarming tales. - Erin Cataldi, Johnson Co. Public Library, Franklin, IN

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Atomic Blonde

The only thing I had to go off of was the previews for the action packed movie adaptation, other than that I had no idea what this book was actually about. The movie looks like Charlize Theron just kicking a lot of ass, but the book there isn't so much of that. It's about spies in Germany during the Cold War before the wall fell. When shit hits the fan and a very sensitive document goes missing M16 sends a tried and true officer (Lorraine) to recover the item and sort out the mess. She quickly realizes that not everything is as it seems and that some agents may have gone native, playing more than one side. She uses her skills to get to the bottom of the rabbit trail, but where will it lead her... A spy thriller as a graphic novel, I'm sure the movie adaptation, will make this gem more sought over.

Modern Romance

Even though this is non-fiction, it is also straight up comedy gold. Aziz makes an interesting topic more engaging and easy to read by inserting his trademark wit and humor. Modern Romance is exactly what the title implies, it's all about love, dating, and relationships in the modern era. It's not all conjecture though, he consults top researchers in a variety of fields to provide statistical analysis, charts, and graphs and also conducted tons of focus groups to see how people today view romance in the age of technology. There is some interesting new trends on how we meet soul mates, judge potential candidates, and view love now that we have access to a wide variety of dating apps, social media, and expanded friend groups. Definitely an interesting read that is sure to start great conversation.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

She's Come Undone

I have strong feelings about this book I just don't know what they are. I'm honestly kind of speechless. I think it was great? Hell, what happened? What did I read? How do you describe such a complex and... uncomplicated book? It's a coming of age story, an awakening, an odyssey of emotional and mental health. It's all over the place. It all centers around Dolores Price, a young girl who isn't the most emotionally stable. She starts off as a fragile little thing and balloons up into a fat, depressed cynic, and then spends the rest of her life roller coasting around until she finds some sort of balance. It's a discussion of women's rights, religion, mental health, family dynamics, romantic relationships, and more. She is a complex, intriguing heroine/villain/comedic actress. Honestly I can't describe this book and do it justice. It takes a little to get into, but once you do... buckle up.

All the Dirty Parts

I was definitely intrigued by this book when I realized it was written by the author of the Series of Unfortunate Events (Lemony Snicket) and it was all about sex and horny teenagers. I mean, obviously I had to give this book a shot. It wasn't great, but it wasn't bad either. I didn't know what to expect honestly. It's a bunch of short passages about a horny teenage boy discussing his love and appreciation for the female body, pornography, and sex. Cole has  bit of a reputation around his high school, he chases after the ladies, he can't help it. He just wants them all. When in between ladies, he watches porn with his best friend Alec. One day things get all hot and awkward and the two boys start fooling around. It's just innocent exploration. Until suddenly it's a little more and Cole is getting concerned. Is he gay? What does this mean? At the height of his existential crisis a new girl comes to school and the two start having crazy awesome sex, much to Alec's dismay. Is he bi? Is he in love? Is it just sex? All this book contains are the dirty parts. That and confusion. It's a quick read, and I'm not sure what I gained out of it, but I didn't hate it.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Drunks

I was expecting a more light hearted funny non fiction book about the history and plight of the American drunks, but instead got the in-depth history of drunks (starting with American Indians) trying to reform and become sober. It's my bad for not reading the complete description! Every chapter goes into detail about a different method of obtaining sobriety from gold cures to workhouses to temperance society to prohibition to the birth of AA. It's pretty interesting actually and I learned quite a lot, even if it did get a little too bogged down in details. There is a small insert with some pictures and drawings to shed light on some of the different cures and methods discussed. An interesting read, but will mostly be useful for college students, those interested in the history of alcoholism, and those trying to stay sober.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

A Record of My Vinyl

This gorgeous journal is perfect for the music lover in your life. Whether they're a vinyl junkie or just starting to collect, this journal is a great way to record, organize, and mark favorites in your collection. The cover itself is beautiful, but it only gets prettier when you open it up. Inside there are tips for cleaning and maintaining your vinyl collection, lists that can be easily torn out and taken with you as you shop for more vinyl to add to your collection, loads of space to catalog your collection and room to make notes and memories of each. Overall, it's a great gift to give or receive.

Monstress

Beautifully illustrated and complex, I haven't seen a graphic novel like this in ages. Filled with beautiful illustrations, a little bit of manga, and comic art this new series is sure to attract a wide audience. The storyline can be a little hard to follow at times, but overall I think it's worth checking out. Mix horror, manga, steampunk, and fantasy and you have Monstress. It's dark, gorgeous, and twisting and I wouldn't even begin to do it justice by trying to write a summary for it. Just check it out for yourself :)

Saturday, September 2, 2017

The Girls in the Picture

I adored this book. For some unknown reasons I didn't have high expectations, maybe it was the cover? Who knows, but despite my initial misgivings, I am happy to say that I was instantly hooked. The story was wonderfully crafted and the chapters alternated between Mary Pickford, America's Sweetheart, first "celebrity," and silent movie star and Frances Marion, the famed screenwriter. I had heard of Mary Pickford but I didn't really know about her or the silent film era either. Readers get a wonderful glimpse of what life was like for women in early Hollywood through the unique lens of two women who actually existed (although their narratives are in this book are fiction). The history of silent film and the birth of Hollywood is fascinating and this book offers an in depth look at not only these two women, but the men surrounding them, Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, studio heads and more. One of the best historical fiction reads I've read in a long while and a must read!

Changes

Wow, this book really helped tie together so much of the series. And if I'm being honest, it's one of the best ones in a while. Dresden finds out that he had a daughter with Susan and that she's been kidnapped by the red court who want to murder her to complete a blood sacrifice. So once again, stupid Susan is on my list. UGH. Obviously shit hits the fan and it takes a whole crew to help Harry out because he is in waaay too deep. It's a non-stop action ride with everyone's favorite wizard kicking ass and cracking jokes. I can't wait to read the next in the series because this one totally ended on a cliffhanger. Amazeballs!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Spell On Wheels

I LOVED this graphic novel! I think it sets the right tone for starting off a series and I loved the three witches it featured. It's fun, sassy, intriguing, and honest. Everything I want in a comic. It was refreshing to see some diversity in body types and race as well. Think charmed, but way cooler. Someone breaks into their house and steals some of their magical goods, they find it's popped up on the online black market so they go on a magical road trip to recover all their items and seek vengeance on whatever black heart stole from them. Super fun and I can't wait to continue the series!

Paper Girls vol. 3

This series continues to get more intriguing and I'm not sure where exactly it's headed, but honestly that makes it more interesting. In this latest installment the twelve year old newspaper girls find themselves stuck in the pre-historic past. They encounter a girl their age, already a mother, and with the help of a translating device, they work together to find a way to get out of their before monsters or the "men" find them.

Of Jenny and the Aliens

I haven't felt so strongly about a book in a long time, but I truly despised this teen book. The writing style wasn't bad and there was some decent humor but overall the plot and the characters were horrible! Derek, a dorky, but still slightly popular teenager goes to a house party the night the world finds out aliens exist. Everyone is more carefree and open and scared, so he finds himself talking to Jenny (who is walking around the party topless) and later in the evening he loses his virginity to her. He becomes OBSESSED with Jenny over night and she is all he can think about. Even when he runs into an alien and talks with it, it's still not as cool as Jenny. When things inevitably begin to go south with this uber horny, slightly stalkerish teen he tries to ask his new alien friend for help. Because he doesn't care about the big war going on, he just wants some more action from Jenny. Like for real?!?! That's what you would ask an alien for help with? Filled with horny teens, loads of underage drinking, weed usage, and overall asshole kids, this teen novel is  hard pass. I'm not even a prude but the conclusion of the novel advocated for open relationships. Soo that's cool... Seriously, the worst.

Friday, August 25, 2017

The Great Quake

I love non-fiction and The Great Quake did an excellent job discussing the Good Friday Earthquake that hit Alaska in 1964 and going in depth about what was known about earthquakes and geology at the time. Henry Fountain includes lots of photos and personal testimonies to show just how devastating this quake was and how it changed our understanding of the world. The theory of plate tectonics (a term not even coined yet) was still hotly debated and scientists understanding and research of earthquakes was rudimentary at best. The great quake helped prove the plate tectonics theory, a concept I thought had been around for much longer than it really was. A deeply interesting read although sometimes it did get a little too bogged down in scientific details.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Class Mom

Essentially chick lit/ beach read, but nevertheless very funny and unique. Most parents of kindergartners are in their twenties and thirties, but Jen Dixon a former INXS groupie with two girls in college, is about to break that mold. Her son Max is entering kindergarten and the duty of class mom falls on her shoulders. She sends out her emails with wit and sarcasm in order to whip up volunteers for events, foods, and crafts. Told through emails and narrative, this book reads quickly and is laugh out loud funny at points. Great for moms breaking the molds or anyone who loves chick lit with lots of good laughs.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

See What I have Done

This fictional retelling of the Lizzie Borden murders was gripping from page one. Sarah Schmidt does a wonderful job recounting the events leading up to the infamous murder of Lizzie Borden's parents by telling the story in multiple voices. Lizzie, her sister Emma, the maid Bridget, and a mysterious man by the name of Benjamin view the events though different eyes and add an air of mystery. Did Lizzie Borden really murder her parents with an ax? Why was the Borden house so messed up? What are they all hiding? It's eerie and compelling and an overall quick read. Dark, morbid, and fascinating - historical fiction at it's best!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Ms. Marvel: Damage Per Second

As the series progresses, Ms. Marvel makes it pretty clear that this series is intended for teens. Damage Per Second focused on getting teens and citizens to "rock the vote" and change politics by being involved, the second part focused on a computer virus that learned from people connected on the internet and started blackmailing Ms. Marvel and releasing people's secrets. Overall, not bad, but not very strong either.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Meddling Kids

This was a fun, over the top, nostalgic read. I've always been a huge fan of the classic kids cartoon, Scooby Doo, so I was more than ready to devour an adult "continuation? of Scooby's gang. Due to copyright and all that, the names are all changed as are their personalities. Nate (Shaggy) borders on the edge of crazy and voluntarily has shut himself in a loony bin, Andy (Velma) is super butch, strong, and obsessed with weapons, Kerri (Daphne) is the gorgeous super smart college dropout, and Peter (Fred) became a Hollywood success only to commit suicide and of course we can't forget Tim (Scooby), their faithful companion. Thirteen years after they solved their last mystery the gang reunites to put to rest some lingering doubts they had about the weird circumstances surrounding the Sleepy Lake Monster. It's been years since they've worked together, but they quickly realize that this one might be more than a man in a mask. Lots of fun, I want more!

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Identicals

This was a refreshingly light, easy beach read.I enjoyed it. It's not one that will stick with me forever, but it was easy to lose myself in the story and pass the time. The story follows two estranged middle aged twins. One of the twins lives on Martha's Vineyard and has bounced from job to job, a free spirited, drinking, husband stealing man. The other works for their mother in Nantucket, operating an upscale boutique and trying to reign in her rambunctious teenage daughter. The twins haven't spoken in nearly fourteen years but the untimely death of their father brings them together. They decide to "switch lives" for the summer, Harper helping out with the store and the rebellious teenager, while Tabitha goes to Martha's Vineyard to gut and re-sell their father's house. Little do they know how much their lives are about to change.

Dreams to Remember

I love music biography's but this one felt lacking to me. It wasn't solely about Otis Redding (only about 95% him.....) and talked a lot about Stax Records and a few other soul singers (but only in relation to Otis). It was very clinical and skimmed over a lot of Otis' life in favor of talking about his recording sessions, rumors about his infidelities and death, and his managers and music companies. This book lacked soul. It was flat, one dimensional, and unexciting. Which is a shame, it's the Big O for crying out loud! I would much rather check out some other Otis Redding biographies. Something with a little more heart.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Possessions

I wanted to like this book I really did. But it never took a hold of me. It never possessed me.... for lack of a better word (see what I did there). The main character isn't easy to relate to or have empathy for, in fact I couldn't find myself caring about ANY of the characters in the novel (and there weren't many!). In this modern society people can speak to their loved ones who have died by going to certain clinics and having people channel their spirits. Edie has been a body (one who can channel the dead) for five years, longer than anyone else ever has. She doesn't mind that her body gets more use by others since she doesn't have any life to speak of. But that all changes when Patrick Braddock comes into her room to speak to his dead wife. For some reason she becomes obsessed with his wife and with Patrick and it's all she can focus on. One thing leads to another and boom. You have a boring novel. Honestly, save your time and pass on this. It was beautifully written by I couldn't care less for the plot or the characters.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

What To Say Next

Buxbaum, Julie. What To Say Next. 8 CDs. unabridged. Books on Tape. 2017. ISBN 9781524709518. 

Compelling, uplifting, and utterly engaging. Bestselling teen author, Julie Buxbaum (Tell Me Three Things) writes a charming opposites attracts romance between a popular young girl and a socially awkward and isolated young man on the autism spectrum. After Kit's father tragically dies, she finds herself receding and unable to keep up with the pressures of social life. Unable to deal with the mundane daily gossip and social climbing she decides to sit with David, an outcast, someone she knows will not pester her. Slowly and over the course of a few weeks the two find they have more in common then they could ever fathom. They begin to trust each other with secrets that they can't tell anyone else and Kit enlists David to help her figure out the exact reason her father died and the accident project is born. Little do they know how much it will complicate things. Wonderfully narrated by Kirby Heyborne and Abigail Revasch, both whom manage to bring their characters to life. Kirby has a flat monotone voice perfectly fitting the complicated character of David and Abigail narration is young and refreshing. Refreshing, honest, and charming. For fans of Rainbow Rowell and Jennifer Niven. - Erin Cataldi, Johnson Co. Public Library, Franklin, IN

Friday, August 4, 2017

Dying for You

I've never read any of Mary Janice Davidson's paranormal romances before and after reading this short story collection I think I'll be passing. They were cliche, cheesy, and practically written for kids (minus the sex scenes). Each of the four short stories was horribly predictable and flat. The romances were over the top, unimaginative, and lacking. There are two short stories about falling in love with ghosts, one about a witch hunter, and another about a vampire and werewolf falling in love. Honestly the short stories could have all even been shorter. I wouldn't have minded one bit.

Evicted

Utterly engrossing, this groundbreaking look at poverty and the fight to find housing in America's cities will forever change how people view homelessness and the oft told saying, "Just work harder." Harvard sociologist Matthew Desmond spent years living in the slum of Milwaukee to understand how deep the problem went and to experience first hand how the nation's poorest are living. Desmond discovered that poorest people were/are spending more than EIGHTY PERCENT of their income trying to find housing, and what they get isn't even substandard. In big cities like Milwaukee, Landlords know there is little to no incentive to clean places up when they can just evict a tenant for complaining and find someone else who is desperate enough to live in squalor. Eye opening and horrifying, Evicted follows six different people, poor black mothers in the ghetto to white trash junkies in trailer parks as they tackle the housing crisis dead on. No matter how hard to struggle to get ahead, the system is rigged against certain demographics, the main being African American women. The amount of research put into this is staggering, as are the implications. Desmond ends with suggestions on how we as a country can come together and end this crisis. After all, doesn't everyone have a right to a roof over their heads?! A must read social justice piece that sheds poverty in a new light.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Behind Her Eyes

There is a slow build up, a couple of unsurprising twists and then one hell of a gut punch at the end. It's no wonder people have been talking about this ending! It's slightly out of the realm of just straight thriller, there is a little tiny droplet of supernatural edge to it (nothing more extreme than lucid dreaming).  Per usual I buy everything hook, line, and sinker at the book which only sets me up for the fall. But honestly, I don't mind that, not all. Louise is a single mum working as a secretary in London and she has the worst possible luck. She finally meets a man at the bar and it turns out that it is her MARRIED new boss at work. Once they get past the initial weirdness they re-start their affair but things get weird when Louise makes a new friend. Her boss's wife, Adele. It happens completely by accident, but now she finds herself dependent on both of them. However, things are not what they seem with Adele. What is going on behind those eyes of hers? Pretty good thriller, kept me entertained and guessing!

Monday, July 31, 2017

You Will Know Me

I really really got into this book, but it just lost steam towards the end and I hated the conclusion. But the suspense, intrigue, and heartache leading up to that point really did grip me. In a nutshell this is the story of a mother so wrapped up in her daughter Devon's gymnastic's career that she doesn't notice when things start to fall out of place. She and her husband have been their every step of the way for their exceptionally talented daughter and have been grooming her for the olympics along with their coach and other Belstars parents and teammates. Even Devon's little brother Drew is okay with always being overlooked consistently because he knows how important his sister's rise is. Everything starts to come apart when one of the coach's boyfriend is tragically killed in a hit and run. It begins to tear at the gymnastic community and then slowly starts unraveling the mother's tight knit family. It started off so solid, I was bummed that the end couldn't keep up. Some twists, turns, intrige, and a crappy ending.

The Lying Game

This author has gotten a lot of hype as thriller author with good twists (The Woman in Cabin 10) so I thought I would check her newest book out. While I wasn't head over in heels about it, the premise was good, the plot solid, and there were some good twists. While in boarding school Isa befriends three girls and they immediately become inseparable. Weekends are spent together, drinking, laughing, and playing the lying game. The goal is to say outrageous lies to people (strangers, peers, professors, etc.) and get them to believe you. Points are awarded on if they believe you, how tall the tale was, and if you could get one of the girls to crack and start laughing. The only rules are: stick to your story, never get caught, never lie to each other, and know when to stop lying. Their time at boarding school was cut short by a tragic accident (of which the reader won't find out until much later) and the girls haven't seen each other in well over a decade. However a chilling text from Kate (I need you) brings the four girls back together again. What they don't realize is that their biggest lie of all is going to come back and haunt them. For fans of suspense and plot twists.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Every Man a Menace

I've read lots of books about drugs, but this was the first that really went in depth and focused on the operation as a whole. Hoffman provides fascinating insight, back stories, insider knowledge, and twists and turns to make this a fascinating and dark read. 5 separate, yet related, short stories intertwine to put together the puzzle of a complex ecstasy smuggling operation that spans continents. Flawlessly executed and plotted this is a must read for crime fiction readers. This would also make an excellent movie adaptation.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Human Happiness

Poundstone, Paula. The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Human Happiness. 6 CDs. unabridged. High Bridge. 2017. ISBN 9781681684031. 

Comedian Paula Poundstone (NPR's Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!, HBO and Bravo comedy specials) pursues the secrets of happiness with a series of over the top unscientific studies. Whether it's learning to dance, getting in shape, getting closer to nature, or binge watching movies, Poundstone dedicates herself to trying anything that promises happiness and recording the results. Peppered with hilarious asides, family squabbles, failures, cat litter, and hands on research; listeners will find themselves laughing along with the absurdity and hilariousness of Poundstone's search for human happiness. Expertly narrated by the comedian herself, it listens like a good stand up comedy and will garner Poundstone even more fans. For fans of comedic memoirs and zany scientific endeavors. - Erin Cataldi, Johnson Co. Public Library, Franklin, IN

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Infinite Ground

I have no idea what I just read. There is surrealism, madness, mystery, and adventure and the reader must decide what is real and what is not. A retired police inspector takes on a missing person case and decides that he must become Carlos in order to find him. When that doesn't work the inspector decides that Carlos must have escaped into the jungle and then goes deeper and deeper into his inner psyche and the jungle. It's beautiful and lush but hard to follow. Their are theories, what ifs, spiraling threads, and insanity. I could never discuss this or analyze it. It's far too off the war. For fans of surrealism and literary fiction.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Born to Run

Not exactly a groundbreaking memoir, but still filled with heart and ambition. I've never been a die hard Springsteen fan but this memoir gave me a new appreciation for all the hard work and dedication it took him to become the superstar he is. In this autobiography Bruce goes into detail about his childhood, rocky road to becoming a musician and then his eventual rise to fame. I did enjoy listening to his music while reading this and lots of his songs had new meanings when you learn about the back stories in them. A pretty decent biography, but it will be of most interest to the rabid Springsteen fans rather than the general public.

Come Sundown

This was my first and most likely last Nora Roberts book. I was not impressed and it was so formulaic that you could see the twist and the ending a mile away. Some might try to classify this as romantic suspense, but the suspense is so minimal I don't even want it included. It's nearly 500 pages of romantic fluff, cliches, cowboys, ranch life, independent women, kidnapping, and family secrets. It goes back and forth in time to show the disappearance of a girl in the early nineties, the mind of a deranged kidnapper and rapist, and the modern day life of the manager of a huge family ranch and resort. It's nothing to write home about.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Always and Forever, Lara Jean

Han, Jenny. Always and Forever, Lara Jean. 8 CDs. unabridged. Recorded Books. 2017. ISBN 9781501942143. 

Lara Jean romances her way through her senior year of high school in the final installment of the To All the Boys I've Loved Before trilogy. Everything seems to be going Lara Jean's way; she has the cutest and most adoring boyfriend, she's on the verge of perfecting her perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe, her father is engaged to their next door neighbor, and she has college to look forward to in the fall. There is only one problem, she's on pins and needles waiting for her college acceptance letter to come. When it finally arrives her picture perfect world seems to fray at the edges. What's a girl to do, listen to the head or the heart? Beautifully narrated by Laura Knight Keating who manages to capture the ups, downs and naive beauty of teenage angst and romance. Teens will eat up the satisfying conclusion to this laugh out loud romance trilogy. - Erin Cataldi, Johnson Co. Public Library, Franklin, IN

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Olive Kitteridge

I enjoyed this book but it wasn't remotely what I thought it would be. Olive Kitteridge is the common thread between all the stories in this novel. Set in a small town in Maine, Olive is a retired school teacher who loves her son (too fiercely perhaps), enjoys in the goings on of others, and tries to make sense of her life as she ages. Some of the stories are from her perspective and many others are from other townsfolk as they view her, sometimes from a far distance. She is a bit prickly and stoic but she is also very relatable and sympathetic. An interesting and complex  look at an aging woman and then lens through which she sees the world around her and the way that others perceive her as well.

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Reason You're Alive

Matthew Quick never lets me down. He is wonderful at getting in the mind of his characters and letting his reader understand mental illness and emotional distress. The Reason You're Alive is the story of Vietnam vet, Daniel Granger. After a car accident makes him have brain surgery he is sent to live with his son and granddaughter. Told in a crass, un-politically, unapologetic voice, this book is sure to win over readers. Daniel tells it like it is, from his marriage, experiences in the war, troubles with his son, guns, and race. It's funny, shocking, distressing, and hopeful. I wasn't sure where the story was headed for the first half of the book but it wrapped up nicely at the end and brought everything back together. Another slam dunk for Matthew Quick.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Veil of Roses

Halfway though I realized that I had, without a doubt, read this book some years before. Not that I minded. It was a good re-read. I do have some concerns with the author's research on Persians and modern day Iran and I don't think all her assumptions are fair or accurate, but other that that I thought it was a good story and premise. A young Iranian woman comes to the United States in order to find a husband (her visa is only good for three months). She wants to escape the radical religious government and have freedom (unlike her parents who are trapped in Tehran). She stays with her sister and her husband and together they look for a suitable Persian American while she takes English classes at the local library. During the midst of this she meets a charming barista at Starbucks but she doesn't give him the time of day because he would never understand her predicament. Or would he?

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Into the Water

Suspenseful, riveting, and unique. The ending was a little anti-climactic, with a twist the reader could easily sniff out, but it was still a fun, morbid read. Told from multiple narrators, a manuscript, and some flashbacks, Into the Water, tells the story of Nell Abbot's fall? suicide? into the drowning pool where many other women before her have entered the water depths never to re-emerge. The narrator includes her estranged sister, her 15 year old daughter, the mother of a girl who also died in the drowning pool, some cops, a psychic and some other characters. Full of twists and turns this reads fast all the way up to the lackluster conclusion. Still a good read despite that though.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Rebel of the Sands

Arabian Nights meets Aladdin meets teen romance. A wonderfully executed teen fantasy novel set in the harsh desert where guns are the currency of the land. As a woman, Amani knows that she has no rights and might soon be forced to marry her uncle and become one of his many wives. Trying to escape she goes to the pistol pit disguised as a boy trying to win a shooting contest to get money to escape the hell hole she's grown up in. While their things get out of hand and she finds herself befriending a foreigner who is almost as a good shot as she. Little does she know that her chance encounter with him will forever change her future. Full of daring escapes, magic, folklore, and all around badassery, this young adult novel is a slam dunk. I'll have to check out the second in the series.

P.S. I Still Love You

I thought this was a pretty solid follow up to the first book. It wasn't amazing, but I thought it stayed true to all the characters and the overall feel. Lara Jean and Peter are going to try out a real relationship rather than the charade they've put up for everyone, but their fledgling relationship gets off to a rocky start when a video of the two of them making out in a hot tub on their ski trip becomes a viral sensation. Suddenly everyone thinks Lara Jean is a slut and Peter is a hero. Lara Jean knows that Genevieve, Peter's malicious ex-girlfriend and her former best friend has to be behind it. Can their relationship survive all the drama?

Monday, July 3, 2017

To All the Boys I've Loved Before

I found myself really enjoying this book, I think it's about as honest and believable as you can get in teen fiction. Lara Jean is the middle girl in the song sisters trio. Raised by their father after their mother's sudden death, they are as close as sisters can get. That is until Margot, the oldest, goes to Scotland for college leaving Lara Jean to look after her younger sister Kitty and their father. As if things couldn't get any more trying Lara Jean's hat box containing love notes written to all the boy's she's had crushes on over the years goes missing and all the letters get mailed out! She's mortified and finds herself bumbling in and out of awkward situations. Truly adorable and awkward and relate-able. I can't wait to read the next in the series.

The Historian

The amount of research put into this book is astounding. It's richly detailed, innovative, spellbinding, and truly chilling. It's like "The Davinci Code" meets "Dracula" full of historical twists, research, and bone chilling intrigue. It's denseness can be a little intimidating but once you get passed that it's impossible not to be hooked. The story goes back and forth between a young girl's journey to find her father and learn about his past and the father's actual account of what happened. It weaves together beautifully as they search for the real life Dracula through libraries, museums, foreign cities, and old research. Wonderfully written and imagined.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Goldie Vance Volume Two

There was a lot going on in this teen detective graphic novel and at times it seemed to be a bit too much. But, the characters are great, the story-line wacky, and the premise too cool. Even if I didn't love the plot of this one I plan on sticking with this series because it holds a lot of promise. Volume two was just all over the place with astronauts, mermaids, beauty pageants, and FBI agents. A few too many pieces in the puzzle for my taste, but not horrible. I'm already looking forward to volume three.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The End of Men

The epitome of chick lit/ beach reads. I'll admit I was not a huge fan. It was well written but I didn't particularly care about the four women and I will even go as far to say that I even despised one (I'm looking at you Isabel!). Four women wrapped up in careers, marriages, affairs, and motherhood explore and try to make sense of the confusing female experience. Even when they have everything they want their not happy, Why is it so hard to be a working mother in the twenty first century, if only they could have men to share the burden with. Maggie had an affair with a married man, had a child with him, married him and took in his two older children as well, and now regrets everything (except her child). Isabel is married to the perfect man, is in the middle of a glowing pregnancy and embarks on an affair with her long time friend and former love interest. Beth works on being a good single mother to her daughter while her ex-husband is dying of AIDs. Anna tries to balance being a mom of two and a breadwinner when she thinks she really wants to be a stay at home mom. All four women are going through different trials and tribulations but it all goes back to womanhood and the end of men.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Allegedly

It took me a second to get into this book but once I did, I was all in. Mary has been in "baby jail" since she "allegedly" killed a six month old baby while babysitting when she nine. While she never admitted she did, she also never denied she did it either. She just didn't talk. For seven years she just passed the time but when she finds herself pregnant she is finally ready to talk about what happened. It's gripping and full of twists and turns and has an insane twist at the end. If teens can get through the first few chapters they will find themselves addicted. A fun and unique read!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

My Life with Bob

As a lifelong bibliophile I devoured this book. Pamela Paul's essays about the transformative power books have on our lives rang true with me, from meticulously keeping track of all the books read to finding the right book when you need to judging people by books they do or don't love, I knew exactly what she meant. I do the same things and feel the same way. At times the author could almost come off as a bit pretentious with her literary classics and disdain for mass market popular paperbacks, but it's clearly not her intention. While I do not have such high brow reading tastes (I read all over the spectrum; from self published smut to feminist essays to pulp fiction, I'm an equal opportunity reader and once I start a book I never put it down), I could see where she was coming from. I too was in awe of the library as a kid, I took a book everywhere I went (still do) and I still feel a righteous zeal when I'm endorsing a book I absolutely love to everyone. A great book for bibliophiles, librarians, and writers.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Lumberjanes: Band Together

What can I say about this series that I haven't said already. It's quirky, cute, and adorable. I will continue to read it. This volume features mermaids, bands, and fights with friends. It's honestly my favorite one that I've read in a while. Who wouldn't want to see a punk rock mermaid band?!?! Also, you get a little backstory on the five campers as it shows them arriving to camp.

Anne of Green Gables

I hadn't read this classic since I was a little girl and it was soo nice to revisit it. I forgot how charming Anne is and how happy her antics made me. As an adult I realize there isn't much of a plot, each chapter is a short story on some mischief or excitement that Anne gets up to, but honestly that makes it all the more charming. I am definitely inspired to read more of the series (I've only ever read the first one!) and to rewatch the show, although from what I hear I may need to avoid the new Netflix original. All in all a great re-read. It definitely holds up :)