Sunday, March 10, 2019

The Underdog by Agatha Christie page count unknown

I listened to this Hercule Poirot mystery for the first time.  I can't even find it as a stand alone book in print, but I would guess it is only around 100 pages.  For one of the shorter Poirot stories, it certainly packs a wallop.  Someone has done a murder and the lady of the house is convinced she knows who.  The problem is that the only thing she's going on is her intuition.  Poirot is the only one who does not scoff, but decides to see why she is so resolute in her conviction.  Read by David Suchet, the best Poirot ever. 

Educated: a memoir by Tara Westover 334 pages

I struggle with how I want to describe this book.  It was riveting, but so unsettling.  This autobiography was remarkable in that the author got out and away from her upbringing as well adjusted as she did.  Don't get me wrong, I'll bet she's going to be struggling for the rest of her life to undo the damage growing up the way she did caused.  However, the fact that she was able to break away from her family and all their psychological problems and abuse is really impressive.  Her story is never really presented in a woe-is-me way, it is presented in a very matter of fact way that is almost more unsettling.  I love biographies and this is one that I will probably never forget. 

Shadow Weaver by MarcyKate Connolly 310 pages

Set in a world where some children were gifted by a specific cosmic event, this story follows Emmeline.  Emmeline was born a shadow weaver, she can literally draw shadows to her, craft them into tangible items, cloak herself in them and use them to try to fill her lonely days.  The child of wealthy parents, she is not allowed to make friends, everyone seems frightened of her and she feels terribly misunderstood.  Only Dar, her own shadow, is always with her.  She can hear Dar speak, but no one else can.  A serious and terrifying event leads Emmeline to run away from home.  When she meets a boy who can weave with light, her shadow begins to act very strangely.  This is a great introduction to fantasy and psychological thrillers for young people.  It also gives clues to what toxic relationships can look like.  I really enjoyed this story for its sensitive treatment of its characters and realistic response to situations, even though the situations themselves were fantastic.  I highly recommend this to children 4th grade and up. 

24 Hours in Nowhere by Dusti Bowling 260 pages

I saw that this book was being compared to Holes by Louis Sachar.  How could I not read it?  Nowhere is a tiny town that most people dream of fleeing.  A group of kids form an unlikely alliance to satisfy a demand from the local bully and enter into the most dangerous local, condemned mine.  Their search for gold yields more than they ever thought possible.  It also often made me think of The Goonies, which is one of my all time favorite movies.  For 4th graders and up who love realistic fiction with a bit of adventure and mystery thrown in, you can't miss with this one. 

The House with a Clock in Its Walls by John Bellairs 179 pages

This was one of my favorite books when I was young.  It was also my first introduction to the artwork of Edward Gorey.  I can't tell you how much I loved experiencing this again, it was my first time reading it with my ears.  Read by George Guidall, it was as enjoyable as I remembered from my youth.  You've probably seen the trailers for the movie, or the movie itself, so you know it is a story about magic, good vs. evil, growing up, trying to fit in, loss and love.  It is told in such an accessible way for a young audience, I simply cannot recommend it highly enough! 

Monday, March 4, 2019

We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix, 337 pages

We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix is a supernatural horror novel, but also has some dry humor in there. A tad too unrealistic for me, so I didn't enjoy it as much as I hoped I would, but I still would give this one 3/5 stars. It was fast paced and some parts really made my skin crawl.

Over twenty years after her almost success as the guitarist for metal band Dürk Würk, Kris has hit rock bottom, working as a receptionist at a Best Western and barely getting by. She is still bitter about what split the band up, and now is reeling: Terry, former best friend and lead singer of Dürk Würk is going on tour with his new group, Koffin. Kris decides to confront Terry about what happened, and tries to rally the troops to come with her, including multiple former band members. She soon realizes that Terry's success stemmed for something far more sinister than just screwing over the rest of the band... he potentially sold their souls. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas, 452 Pages

I was very nervous to read this book because I had such high standards for it. Angie Thomas's first book, The Hate U Give, was a life-changing book for me. Not only was the book phenomenally written, but the story itself is so important. It is one of the few books where I fell in love with the characters, and my heart broke a little bit when I had to let them go. I'm happy to say that On the Come Up lived up to every expectation I had! This is another story that is so well written, and another set of characters that you can't help but feel attached to. Angie Thomas has quickly became one of my favorite authors, and I will read anything and everything that she puts out there.

Bri knows one thing: She wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all-time. Following in her now-dead father's footsteps, Bri starts attending rap battles. Just as she begins to win the battles, and things look like they might start looking up, her mom loses her job and they're on the verge of being evicted. Bri knows that the one thing that would get her and her family out of this situation and out of her neighborhood is making it big. The only problem is, is that the one person who can help her do it expects her to rap about things that aren't an actual part of her personal life- guns, drugs and gangs. She battles an inner-turmoil of doing what she knows will get her top, or staying true to herself.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Little Darlings by Melanie Golding, 304 pages

This. Book. Is. So. Creepy!!  I finished this in one night, because I couldn't put it down. Not only is this book entirely creepy, it also hits on every parent's worst nightmares. I can't get over how scary this book is, and have already been recommending it to everyone I know. Little Darlings is set to be published in April 2019.

Lauren just gave birth to twin boys, and is exhausted. But, when she hears a woman in the next room over, seemingly singing to her twins, she's excited to find someone who can relate to her current status. The next morning, she asks the nurse about the woman from the other room, and is met with a puzzled look, the room has been empty since Lauren arrived. The next night, Lauren hears the same noises, and lets herself into the room. She finds a strange woman singing to herself, and when she meets her eyes, she instantly knows something is not right. The woman begins talking about exchanging the twins, which results in Lauren locking herself in the hospital bathroom, taking refuge with her twins. When the police arrive, the hospital is searched and no one is found, resulting in Lauren being placed on a psychiatric hold. She knows what she saw, but no one will listen to her. Everyone around her keeps talking about how tired she is. A few weeks later, Lauren is home with the boys, and the paranoia hasn't wavered. Leaving the house to get some fresh air, Lauren's worst nightmares come true, and the boys are kidnapped. Thankfully, they're found shortly after, and everyone is elated except Lauren, who knows that the twins look like her boys, but they are anything but.

Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story, by Nora Raleigh Baskin, 209 pages

I've been substituting at a local elementary school library, and this was a book that I brought in to read aloud to the older students. Nine, Ten is a Mark Twain Award nominee for 2018-2019, and after reading it, I can definitely understand why. Every book I've read in regards to September 11 is about the events that took place that day, and the devastation that followed. This book is different, as it begins two days before the attack, and follows four kids in different parts of the country. The kids don't know each other at all, but each one's life is going to be affected in the coming days. Nine, Ten is a great representation of the different people we have in our country, and how important it is not to judge a book by it's cover.

The Hiding Place by C.J. Tudor, 288 pages

I am a sucker for anything horror related, so I was really pleased to read this book and be genuinely scared while reading it. I was having nightmares and had to put it down for a few days to give myself a mental break. I really liked this book, and recommend it to any who loves horror/psychological thrillers.