Monday, April 30, 2018

My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf, 221 Pages

I've never been huge into Graphic Novels, but I've been really trying to broaden my horizons so I can be a better asset in the reader's advisory department of this job! I have to say, I really enjoyed this! It was a fast read (which I loved for the reading challenge I set for myself,) and it was absolutely creepy! It is actually based off of true events, as the author was friends with serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer in high school. It almost (ALMOST!!!) makes you sympathize with Dahmer a little bit, hearing how rough his last years of "normalcy" were. I definitely recommend this to any true crime lovers out there!

Thursday, April 26, 2018

The Broken Ones by Sarah A. Denzil, 284 Pages

This was a short, fast paced read that I really enjoyed. It genuinely creeped me out, and I had a hard time reading it at night after everyone went to bed. 

Sophie knows she is being watched. She has plenty of "suspects", including the man she recently met online, her ill mother or maybe the nurse who takes care of her mother. She even begins to question if her mother is actually sick. She is forced to face her dark, extremely abusive past in order to uncover what is actually happening around her. And some of the stuff she finds out will change her life forever. 

Strange Weather by Joe Hill, 432 Pages

Strange Weather is a collection of four short novels that mostly fall in the horror/thriller genre. The author is Joe Hill, who is actually Stephen King's son! I found their writing pretty similar, and I enjoyed this book. I will say... I found the novel "Loaded" difficult to read, but the rest of them were okay. Overall, I would recommend this one to patron's that are interested in the horror genre, and are fans of King!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

The Last Halloween by Abby Howard 448 pages

Oh, man, this is an awesome book!  I love the artwork and the story.  This started as a web comic that got published as a glorious book I can hold in my hands.  It makes me so happy.  Young Mona has a big problem, primarily a giant monster that calls on her Halloween night.  This leads her to run for help, but she finds more kids...who turn out to be monsters, also.  Well, things aren't looking great, especially since Mona gets tagged to try to stop humanity from being destroyed by monsters since the entity that was keeping it all in balance has disappeared.  This has a great energy and the white on black illustration is just gorgeous.  I can't recommend this more highly!

Ahimsa by Supriya Kelkar 307 pages

To carry on with my India fiction for children, I read Ahimsa.  This takes place during one of the most brutal, but fascinating periods of time in India's history.  I've read several other stories set around the time that Pakistan was established as a separate country from India, but they were always for an adult audience.  This book was set before the split, when India was still under British rule and tensions were running high.  It follows a young girl, Anjali, as her family joins the peaceful resistance started by Gandhi.  If you're interested in historical fiction, I highly recommend this one.  Ahimsa means peace, and this book gently reminds us that one voice can have a huge impact. 

Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani 161 pages

I love graphic novels.  I'm not a fast reader, but graphic novels let me feel like I am.  I also love India.  I love historical fiction about India, I love Indian art, music, Hindiphile the right word?  Anyway, this was a really cool book for a younger audience to just be introduced to not only some cool Indian terms and a visual (if cartoon-y) trip to India, but also a glimpse of what one child's life as an Indian-American might be like.  Ultimately, I love the feeling of 'it's okay to be who you are, that's as awesome as it gets' that the book conveys.  So much story can be told in pictures and I think Chanani did a beautiful job capturing the color and warmth, and sometimes frenetic energy of India.  The pashmina being an integral instrument to tell different parts of the story was a cool touch, because the use of color to transport the reader was so clever.  I really liked this book!

Too Many Cooks: a Nero Wolfe Mystery by Rex Stout 179 pages

Not much can get Nero Wolfe out of the only chair that will fit him or his daily routine, but when he is to be the guest speaker for a group of gourmands, he can hardly say no.  Traveling by train with ever-entertaining Archie Goodwin is only the start of the fun.  Of course, there has to be a murder to go and spoil the whole thing.  Don't worry, though, Wolfe will figure out a way to make it all work to his advantage...that's what geniuses do.  This is one of my favorite Nero Wolfe mysteries.  It is very funny, but it is set in a time and area where racial tensions were high.  Some language is certainly offensive, but characteristic of its time and the characters who use it. 

I listened to the audiobook read by Michael Prichard, who did a spectacular job capturing Archie's voice, as always.

Ruby and Olivia by Rachel Hawkins 240 pages

When Olivia takes the fall for a crime her twin sister committed, she knows she has to live with the punishment she shouldn't have been given.  Spending her summer cleaning a creepy old house that has a tree growing right up through its center is bad enough, but she has to serve time with an old enemy, too.  This book had just the right amount of creepiness, while not making that the main story.  I loved Ruby and Olivia, they were both believable and the fact that each chapter was told from the other girl's perspective was a great way to be able to connect with them both.  This is a fun, quick read to hand to someone who likes realistic stories with just a touch of supernatural intrigue. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur, 204 Pages

I finished this one today, and I'm glad I read it. This was another one that I didn't love, but it was beautiful, nonetheless. This poetry by Kaur was definitely more sad than The Sun and Her Flowers,  but it is so neat to read as the author goes through her healing process. 

"We are all born so beautiful. The greatest tragedy is being convinced we are not."

Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter, 396 Pages

Let me start off with a warning: this book is extremely dark and disturbing. I love psychological thrillers/horror, all that stuff... but this was a tough one to get through. 
That being said, I absolutely loved this book. I was reading this constantly, and when I wasn't reading it, I was thinking about it. Karin Slaughter has quickly taken over as my favorite author in this genre. 

Sisters Claire and Lydia haven't spoken in over a decade, and are living completely opposite lives with one thing in common; both are still absolutely devastated about the disappearance of their older sister that took place over 20 years ago. Lydia is a struggling single mom and recovering drug addict. Claire is the typical "trophy wife", living an "ask and you shall receive" life. They are reunited when Claire's husband is brutally murdered. The sister's are forced to put their differences aside when they have to work together and dive into their past to help uncover some extremely painful, shocking truths. 

The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur, 256 Pages

I read this one in another attempt to give poetry a chance. I've seen and heard so much about Kaur and her work, so I was anxious to read this one, especially after enjoying the last book of poetry I read so much. Unfortunately, this one fell flat for me. I didn't dislike it, but it didn't feel quite as relateable as the last book I read. I did bookmark a few poems that were absolutely beautiful, but overall, this one just didn't do it for me. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

The Girl Who Wrote in Silk by Kelli Estes, 391 pages

  I listened to an unabridged audio book version read by Emily Woo Zeller and enjoyed the experience.
  The novel spun a fictional tale of current and past events and characters resulting from the actual Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 (when the U.S. Federal Government prohibited Chinese workers from entering the country and around which time people of Chinese descent in the Western U.S. were treated with hatred and even massacred). Being a Midwestern caucasion person from a different era, I had never heard of the legislation, and I had not known of the post-Civil War violence experienced by Chinese immigrants in the U.S. before I encountered this story. Guess I’m not surprised, but I am disgusted that people were hurt by such racial hatred.
  The story is worth listening to. In it, you will meet Mei Lein, a young woman born in Seattle to Chinese immigrants before the Chinese Exclusion Act and Inara Erickson, a recent graduate who inherits Orcas Island property a ferry ride from Seattle in the present time. Their stories are told separately but certainly intertwine. You’ll get a dose of mystery as Inara searches to learn about Mei Lein’s life in addition to a little romance and the adventure of remodeling an old house for new purposes.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The Princess Saves Herself In This One by Amanda Lovelace, 156 Pages

I will admit- I've never been a big fan of poetry. I think the cause of this is all the "classic" poetry I was forced to read in high school. This just put a bad taste in my mouth for the genre all together, so I've avoided it ever since... until now. I've been seeing lots of buzz around this book, and then I assisted with a poetry display at my branch, which convinced me to give it a go. I'M SO GLAD I DID! This poet writes about love, loss, femininity and so many other topics, in extremely relatable context. The emotion is pouring out of the pages as you read it, and I really can't recommend it enough. 

In a Cottage In a Wood by Cass Green, 320 Pages

I received an Advanced Copy of this book a few months ago, but I've been attempting to get some books off my "To-Read List" for a while, so it's been actively collecting dust on my bookshelf. I finally got it last weekend because I didn't have anything else at home to read, and I'm glad I finally did! This book gets to the point rather quickly, and then keeps the excitement coming. 

Neve, to put it simply, is a mess. She recently lost her boyfriend, is working at a dead-end job, and moved in with her sister and her family. Walking home after making some iffy decisions, she encounters a mysterious woman on the bridge. The woman introduces herself as Isabelle, and after handing Neve an envelope, she jumps off the bridge. Neve's life quickly gets worse, and she is surprised when she is told that Isabelle left her a cottage in her will. Neve sees this as a blessing in disguise, and potentially a turning point in her wreck of a life. The only problem is, once she arrives to the cottage, this isn't a blessing in disguise, and could potentially be a nightmare. The cottage is run down, has bars on the window, and is holding very sinister secrets that are going to turn her life upside down. 

The Sword of the Lady by S.M. Stirling, 496 pages

  After finishing this book, I’m officially mad at the author of this series, and I may or may not get beyond my frustration enough to continue to the next book.
  I’m mad because when I start a series, I trust that the author can be a reliable guide who knows where he/she is going and that I will return from the adventure I’ve stepped into. Right now, I have no faith that the author will ever provide sufficient closure.
  The Sword of the Lady is the seventh book in S.M. Stirling’s Emberverse series, all of which I’ve read in addition to a companion set of three books (that stopped with no closure) that share the same starting point but that branch out in a different time dimension than the series that The Sword of The Lady plays out in.
  I’ve clearly enjoyed the books or I wouldn’t have now read ten of them over the last five years. The beginning premise of both series stem from one incident called "The Change," one day in 1998, when unexpectedly, immediately, and simultaneously, the entire world loses power. All electrical and fossil-fuel powered engines cease functioning and gunpowder stops working. Chaos and death ensue, eventually followed by emerging new societies of survivors.
  The Sword of the Lady takes place in 2022, twenty-four years after the change, focusing on a specific group of first generation young adults who have existed only in their post-apocalyptic areas of what used to be the United States.
  It appears that at least another seven books have already been written to follow this book, and another is due to be released in the fall of 2018. I don’t know . . . I like the story . . . I like the characters . . . But at the moment, I’ve completely lost patience because I have no intention of being lost in one fictional series for the remainder of my life. I think I’ll stop reading, hope the books eventually reach a satisfactory conclusion and are turned into a TV series that I can binge watch some year on Netflix to better use the real life I’ve been granted.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, 518 pages

  I’ve read the book and seen the movie and hope to do both again one day after enough time has passed for me to forget.
  This story certainly doesn’t glorify time travel; rather, the time travel happens because Henry has a Chrono-Impairment, a disease, that he lives his life in spite of. Only his body goes through time . . . which means no clothes, jewelry or anything else that he might wish to take goes with him. He has no control over the time period within the span of his natural life that he will jump naked (and often vomiting) to and no warning about what age he will next be. Whatever age he finds himself, he is unaware of what life will be like for him as he ages, even if he has been older during some previous time jump.
  The time jumps that make up this book center around the out-of-chronological-time relationship of a husband and wife. Clare meets Henry when she is 6 and he is 36. They marry when she is 22 and he is 30. Henry meets Clare when when she is 40 and he is 28. Clare lives her life in a regular order, never knowing when she'll next run into Henry or what age he'll be when she does. Sometimes they run into each other when only one of them knows who the other is because they have not yet met. 
  No big surprise: the timeline of the story is pretty jumbled, but no more jumbled than the lives of Henry and Clare. 
  Clever. Interesting. Fun. Bittersweet. And not as difficult to follow as it sounds!

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Kings of the Earth by Jon Clinch, 393 pages

  This is the story of three Proctor brothers outside a small New York town, from 1932 to 1990.
   For the most part, their world consists of the tiny home they were born in, each other, and their piece of rural property. None of them is gifted with intelligence, and one of them is intellectually and emotionally challenged to a greater extent than are the other two. The story begins when they have reached old age. One of them dies in bed overnight, and the other two are investigated for murder.
  The story pieces itself together through short chapters. Each chapter is narrated by a voice of someone who has known the Proctor boys in different ways over the years. As the book progresses, the narrators share different tidbits out of chronological order as memories tend to come to a person when trying to make sense of the present. In the days following Vernon's (the oldest brother's) death, the narrative voices share insight into understanding men who, for the most part, have not wanted to be known.  
  As someone who was raised in the country, rural folks’ extreme desire for privacy and independence is no surprise to me. The book challenged me to consider (not for the first time) if it might be best to leave families alone or if society has an obligation to help, stepping uninvited and unwanted into intentionally isolated households, imposing society’s culture. The answer may seem simple enough at first thought but can be complex and heart-wrenching when the people in question become real.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney, 262 Pages

This was a fantastic, quick read. There were multiple twists that I had to re-read a couple times to completely comprehend what was happening. My jaw basically hit the floor more than once during the last few chapters!

Amber Reynolds wakes up without any knowledge of where she is. She hears the voices of everyone around her, and quickly realizes she is in a hospital, in a coma, and unsure of how she got there. She is almost certain that her husband is at fault. The story alternates between the week leading up to her accident, the present, and a series of journals written 20 years ago. In her current state, Amber is an extremely unreliable narrator and makes it very hard to determine what is the truth, and what is a lie.