Wednesday, April 14, 2021
Thursday, April 8, 2021
Mommy Burnout: How to Reclaim Your Life and Raise Healthier Children in the Process
Tuesday, April 6, 2021
by Robin Wall Kimmerer
Tantor Media Inc. 2016.
As a botanist and professor of plant ecology, Robin Wall Kimmerer has spent a career learning how to ask questions of nature using the tools of science. As a Potawatomi woman, she learned from elders, family, and history that the Potawatomi, as well as a majority of other cultures indigenous to this land, consider plants and animals to be our oldest teachers. In Braiding Sweetgrass, Kimmerer brings these two lenses of knowing together to reveal what it means to see humans as "the younger brothers of creation." As she explores these themes, she circles toward a central argument: The awakening of a wider ecological consciousness requires the acknowledgement and celebration of our reciprocal relationship with the world. Once we begin to listen for the languages of other beings, we can begin to understand the innumerable life-giving gifts the world provides us and learn to offer our thanks, our care, and our own gifts in return.
Robin Wall Kimmerer provides us with a refreshing and in-depth perspective on our relationship with the earth. I love that she asks us as humans to become interwoven in our relationship with the earth (hence, braiding sweetgrass) rather than having a give and take relationship. Kimmerer has quite the talent for turning hard science into beautiful art. Her words are like poetry and are a pleasure to read. The knowledge she shares about indigenous culture and practices is so beneficial to the wellbeing of the earth and the human race. That having been said, I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in ecology, botany, nature, science, anthropology, and in exploring the relationship between humans and the earth. I would also highly recommend listening to the audiobook, which is available through the Libby app.
Monday, April 5, 2021
Friday, April 2, 2021
by Ashley Schumacher
Wednesday Books, 2021. 293 pages. Young Adult Fiction
Amelia and Jenna are brought together by a book store and a book. They were meant to be best friends forever. They were going to go to college together and take all the same generals. They were going to be roommates. Jenna had it all planned out, and Amelia needed to be tethered to someone, so she gladly followed the plan.
The summer after graduation, Jenna and Amelia, super fans of N.E. Endsley's amazing Orman Chronicles, find themselves waiting for the panel that will announce the last book in the series, made by N.E. Endsley himself. Amelia heads for the restroom and while she is gone, Jenna meets the terrified Endsley, right outside of the authors' green room. He is having a panic attack. When Amelia returns, she hears the announcement that the Orman panel is canceled. Jenna is strangely quiet about it all. Later she tells Amelia that she tried to help Endsley by telling him to do what was best for him, which led to the panel cancelation. Amelia is devastated and angry. She hold’s Jenna accountable for all her dashed hopes and dreams about meeting Endsley. She is slow to forgive Jenna, so when Jenna is killed in a car accident a week later, Amelia is devastated again.
Amelia becomes obsessed with searching for signs from Jenna. When the 101st out of 100 copies of the leather bound Orman Chronicles shows up for her at her book store with no information about the sender, Amelia knows she needs to find out who sent it. She thinks it’s from Jenna, but she has to be sure. So, she heads to Michigan, to another bookstore that might know where the book came from. Little does she know that this bookstore will bring her together with none other than N.E. Endsley!This book starts out devastatingly sad and ends impossibly. It's beautiful. With writerly prose that evokes vivid images like sky whales that surface whenever Amelia is feeling something deeply, this book uses the language of anxiety and trauma. It resonates deeply with those who have been through similar tragedies. But the book is also just so fun and lovely. If you can get to Michigan with Amelia, you have a big chance of loving this book. For fans of Sara Zarr and Jandy Nelson.
Wednesday, March 31, 2021
By John Moe
St. Martin's Press, 2020. 285 pages. Nonfiction
John Moe does vital work in combatting the discrimination and difficulty that people with mental illnesses have to struggle against just to function. With a realistic and stark honesty about his personal experiences, Moe builds a compelling narrative for readers (or listeners) to get an insider's look at the world of living with depression inside your own head.
The audio book is narrated by the author, who has years of public radio shows and a podcast (of the same name) behind him to make the audio engaging and fun to listen to. By including actual interview segments from the individuals he quotes throughout the book, Moe's experiences are further supported and joined by a chorus of celebrity and professionals that struggle with depression and illness every day. Topics discussed throughout the book include living with symptoms while undiagnosed, the weight of thinking there's something fundamentally wrong, thoughts of suicidal ideation, and living in the wake of a family member's suicide.
The Hilarious World of Depression provides a necessary window into how it is impossible to just "bounce back" when struggling with depression and pulls apart societal stigmas surrounding medication and therapy. Supported by a tapestry of voices the author encountered in his own interviews for his podcast, listeners will walk away with an understanding, validation, or renewed hope that help is possible.
Tuesday, March 30, 2021
By Laura Wood
Random House Children’s Books, 2020. 376 pages. Young Adult
Lou has dreamed of a fancy, high society life, but her family farm in a quiet Cornish village doesn’t exactly exude glamour. She often sneaks into and reads in the Cardew house, a grand house that has stood empty for years. Then, one day, Caitlin and Robert Cardew, the owners, return for the summer. When Lou hides in a tree one evening, watching one of the Cardew’s fancy parties, Robert Cardew surreptitiously walks over and starts chatting with her. Soon, Lou is swept into the hustle and bustle of high society, all the while feeling both excited, and like an outsider.
This is a lovely coming-of-age story. Although the story is relatively predictable and the characters fit nicely into their roles, it was fun to get swept away with Lou into the high-life. The setting is immersive and expertly crafted, and the budding romance adds a nice touch. The bitter-sweet nature of growing up, discovering oneself, and becoming independent of our families really tugs at the heartstrings. For those who have enjoyed PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, or THE GREAT GATSBY, or perhaps aren’t quite ready to venture into those classics, A SKY PAINTED GOLD is a great option.
Tuesday, March 23, 2021
Saturday, March 20, 2021
Juliet Takes a Breath
By Gabby Rivera
Dial Books, 2019. 304 pages. Fiction.The night before she leaves for her dream internship, Juliet Palante comes out to her Puerto Rican family as a lesbian. Leaving behind her shocked and disappointed parents, she travels from the Bronx to Portland, Oregon to intern for her favorite feminist author, Harlowe Brisbane. Juliet spends the summer making friends with other women authors of color, exploring her sexuality, learning to communicate with her mom, and getting over her first break-up. She finds that Harlowe’s brand of feminism isn’t as inclusive as she thought and that sometimes your heroes will fail you. Juliet discovers more about who she is as a “closeted Puerto Rican baby dyke from the Bronx” and learns to love herself, “even the shameful bits”.
Tuesday, March 16, 2021
by Clare Liardet
A little book with a lot of flavor, this collection of alcohol-free cocktails is a must for anyone interested in exploring sophisticated flavor profiles of the world of mocktails. In addition to the perfect primer on mixology that covers common terms and gear, each simple recipe walks you through either the flavor profile or benefits of the particular mocktail. From dessert to clever pick-me-ups, there is sure to be a new favorite drink for you to add to your week.
I'm always on the lookout for interesting flavor combinations and this recipe book doesn't disappoint. One of the things I love about mocktails is that you can make them for anyone. Good mocktails are an experience both lovely and delicious. Each recipe is accompanied by vibrant photos that provide serving suggestions, as well as a range of flavors from creative sodas like a Blueberry-Mint Julep to adventurous remakes like a Beet Virgin Mary. If you're curious about what is beyond soda and syrups, then Dry: Delicious Handcrafted Cocktails and Other Clever Concoctions is a good place to start.
Monday, March 15, 2021
The Danish Way of Parenting: What the Happiest People in the World Know About Raising Confident, Capable Kids
The Danish Way of Parenting: What the Happiest People in the World Know About Raising Confident, Capable Kids
Saturday, March 6, 2021
Rich Dad, Poor Dad
Robert T. Kiyosaki
Plata Publishing, 2017. 352 pages. Nonfiction.
Robert Kiyosaki presents the basics of financial literacy by presenting the fiscal policies he learned from two men, his father and his friend's father. His father worked a traditional job, considered his house an asset, and believed in education (meaning a college degree) as one of the greatest driving factors behind lifelong success. His friend's father believed in taking financial risks when it made sense to do so, assets being only defined as things that make your money, and that and education (meaning a college degree) is only as useful as the financial education you pair with it. Kiyosaki walks you through the story of his own financial literacy journey from when he was a child and he collected toothpaste tubes to melt down and literally mint money with to today. He helps explain what assets should be, and how traditional assets like a house, often aren't an asset at all.
After finished this book, much of the financial advice the flies around the internet finally made sense. Kiyosaki gives you a framework with which to evaluate and analyze financial information you hear in passing as potentially useful or potentially useless. It isn't a traditional book of finance that describes a specific type of investing or financial development. No, Kiyosaki presents the basics that schools don't teach, so that his readers can start to understand the financial world by its most basic units: assets and liabilities. This book is for anyone that might want to get started with becoming financially literate.
Thursday, March 4, 2021
Wednesday, March 3, 2021
By David Chang
Clarkson Potter Publishers, 2020. 288 pgs. Biography
David Chang is best known as the chef and owner of Momofuku Noodle Bar in Manhattan's East Village, although he has by now opened several more restaurants in addition to Momofuku. Chang is surprisingly open about challenges he has faced, including serious struggles with mental health that nearly cost him his life. Chang isn't afraid to admit when he was wrong or made mistakes, and what it cost him to learn those lessons. What he has learned along the way is relatable and even inspiring, and his journey as a chef becomes almost secondary to the description of his growth as a person.
It seems like the chef biographies I have read have all included stories of hard work and overcoming big challenges. But Chang's book stands out from the pack. There is a vulnerability, a readiness to admit imperfections, and a steely determination that I haven't often seen in biographies. There were even a few passages that I wrote down because they paint the world in a light I hadn't considered before. His observations have an unexpected wisdom, insight, and depth that make this an inspiring read. There is plenty of adult language in the book, but fans of biographies and stories of overcoming hardships should find a lot to love here.
Tuesday, March 2, 2021
A Court of Silver Flames fits perfectly with the story and characters the author developed previously. Nesta and Cassian's story is filled with emotional tension, ethical dilemma, and steamy romance. With masterful narration and action, this book is a fun read and impossible to put down.
Monday, March 1, 2021
Wednesday, February 24, 2021
By Matt Haig
Penguin Group, 2019. 352 pgs. Sci-Fi
Tom Hazard looks like an ordinary 41-year-old man, but due to a rare genetic condition, he's actually over 400 years old. He has recently moved back to London to begin teaching history, but London hides memories around every corner, some centuries old. Tom keeps his condition a secret, which isolates him from everyone except the Albatross Society, a small and secretive group of people who, like Tom, age slowly over centuries. The Society has one rule: never fall in love, as forming attachments leads to trouble. But for the first time in centuries, Tom is captivated by a woman, the school's French teacher. The only way to keep her safe is to stay away from her, but Tom is finding that more and more difficult.
This book bridges the gaps between several literary genres: science fiction, romance, and historical fiction. Tom's present-day story is interspersed with glimpses of his life through the centuries. Some cameos from famous historical figures enliven the text, but the observations about the changes in society over time and the nature of time itself offered some of the most interesting moments of the book.
Tuesday, February 23, 2021
Pan’s Labyrinth: The Labyrinth of the Faun
By Guillermo del Toro and Cornelia Funke
Katherine Tegen Books, 2019. 256 pages. Young Adult
Ofelia and her pregnant mother go to live with her new stepfather in a remote forest in Spain, where he is trying to flush out a group of rebels. Upon arrival, Ofelia discovers there are various magical beings in the area, and finds the entrance to a nearby labyrinth. Her arrival awakens a faun who has been searching for the lost Princess Moanna, the daughter of the king of the underworld. He believes Ofelia is the princess, and has her engage in a series of tests to prove her identity. All the while, Ofelia’s mother becomes increasingly sick, and her stepfather shows himself to be an uncaring and harsh man. Ofelia’s only hope to get away from the chaos of her surroundings is to prove her identity and claim her rightful place on the throne.
This is the novelization of Guillermo del Toro’s 2006 film, Pan’s Labyrinth. It’s been several years since I’ve seen the film, but it felt like the novel followed it quite faithfully. That said, it provided a somewhat different experience being directly inside of Ofelia’s head, such as when she justified the eating of food in the lair of the Pale Man. The world building is fantastic, layering fantasy on history, and the reimagining of fairy tales. There are a lot of layers that can be explored and considered, which is why, despite the fact that I had to take breaks because it was so emotionally visceral, I really liked it. If you like dark-fantasy/horror, this is definitely one to pick up, especially if you’d prefer to get the story without watching the movie.
Monday, February 8, 2021
As Old as Time
Friday, February 5, 2021
Thursday, February 4, 2021
by Emma Lord
Wednesday Books, 2020. 361 pages. Young Adult Fiction
This book is just what it looks like, a warm and fuzzy teenage romantic comedy with just enough parental and school drama to keep it from being too frothy. The writing is witty, the action is fast paced, and the laughs are many. In fact, you might want to be careful where you are reading this book, because I guarantee you will belly laugh several times. This is Lord’s debut and I foresee it becoming a classic in the genre. Her second novel, You Have a Match, just came out and I am super excited to read it.
Tuesday, February 2, 2021
Monday, February 1, 2021
by Natalie Zina Walschots
William Morrow, 2020. 403 pages. Science Fiction.
Anna has a boring job in an exciting industry. She's a data analyst by trade, but she uses that skill set as a hench. In other words, she works as a data scientist for supervillains. After receiving a traumatic injury from a superhero trying to stop her supervillain boss, Anna discovers that by the numbers, superheroes cause more loss of life than even natural disasters. Using her skills, and with the resources of a mysterious supervillain named Leviathan, Anna proves that you don't need superpowers to stand up to those in power. All you need is some clever math, a little social engineering, a well-designed spreadsheet, and a passion (or hatred) strong enough to overcome any obstacle that might get in your way.
Hench is a very clever take on the superhero/supervillain genre of stories. Much in the vein of Marissa Meyer's Renegades or Victoria Schwab's Vicious, Walschots uses the traditional black and white fight between good and evil represented in most superhero media projects, throws it into a bucket of grey, and then uses the result to present an interesting commentary on the adage "absolute power corrupts absolutely." For those looking for superhero stories that go against the grain found in the MCU and DCEU, this book is exactly what you're looking for.
Thursday, January 28, 2021
Year of Yes
By Shonda Rhimes