Saturday, December 4, 2021

Otherwise Engaged

By Joanna Barker
Covenant Communications, 2020. 254 pgs. Romance

Rebecca Rowley feels stifled by society and finds ways to quietly and not so quietly rebel. Riding bareback is one of her secret joys but she soon has a much bigger secret as she tries to hide her engagement to the one man her family would never approve of. After saving the life of a young girl on a neighboring estate, she draws the attention of the older brother, Lieutenant Avery. Since he is a naval man and not interested in marriage, Rebecca and Lieutenant Avery form a friendship that turns both their worlds upside down. 

Joanna Barker recently visited the Provo City Library and I decided I wanted to read one of her books. I thoroughly enjoyed Otherwise Engaged. The characters were fun and the storyline kept me interested. I'll definitely be reading more books by this author. 

If you like Otherwise Engaged, you might also like:

By Megan Walker
Shadow Mountain, 2020. 312 pgs. Romance
Amelia Moore needs to secure her sister's engagement to Sir Ronald or else the two sisters will be left destitute. The only problem is that Peter Wood has the same goal for his own sister. Amelia and Peter begin a rivalry - one that Amelia has no choice but to win - but competing against Peter makes Amelia vulnerable to losing the only thing she has left to claim--her heart.

By Esther Hatch
Covenant Communications, 2020. 215 pgs. Romance
Lady Patience Kendrick was born to a life of privilege but as the London Season nears, there is mounting pressure to live the rules of society. Her brother accuses her of frivolity so to prove him wrong she decides to disguise herself as a maid and work as hard as anyone. She is way out of her league and the charming son of the house complicates the charade even further. 


Avatar the last Airbender, the official cookbook

Avatar the last Airbender, the official cookbook: recipes from the Four Nations
by Jenny Dorsey
Insight Editions, 2021. 127 pages. Nonfiction 

From the shores of Kyoshi Island to the crowded streets of Ba Sing Se, this official cookbook collects signature dishes from all four nations, like vegetarian plates of the Air Nomads, fiery entrees from the Fire Nation, seafood from the North and South Poles, and delectable cuisine from the Earth Kingdom. 

Any fan of the TV show will love this cookbook. It is so colorful and calls back to moments of the show such as Sokka and the cactus juice. Each recipe has a little narrative about or from the character and why they like the food. Zuko talks about one of his favorite foods, sizzle crisps, in the Fire Nation section of the book and it is a recipe I will be trying in the future. 

If you liked Avatar the Last Airbender, the Official Cookbook, you may also like: 

by Justin Warner 
Insight Editions, 2020. 143 pages. Nonfiction 

Prepare to eat like a Marvel Super Hero with Marvel Eat the Universe: The Official Cookbook. Chef Justin Warner invites you to pull up a chair and explore the Marvel Universe through these creative dishes inspired by Marvel's heroes. 

by Julie Tremaine 
Insight Editions, 2021. 126 pages. Nonfiction 

Featuring more than 50 recipes inspired by dastardly Disney villains, including such tasty morsels as deviled dragon eggs, spinning wheel potatoes, Jolly Rodger brisket, and bowl of worms pudding. 

by Kim Laidlaw
Insight Editions, 2021. 189 pages. Nonfiction 

When Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King, travels from his world of Halloween Town to Christmas Town, he learns that celebrations and holidays don't just appear out of thin air. Every party takes time and work to make it unique, and this book will help you achieve a party of which both Jack Skellington and Santa Close would be proud. There are ideas in each chapter for decor, crafts, and favors, but the book is designed to inspire readers to make an everyday dinner or a movie night that is memorable. 


Thursday, December 2, 2021

That Cheese Plate Will Change Your Life

by Marissa Mullen
New York: The Dial Press (2020). 285 pages. Nonfiction

Creator of the Instagram sensation @ThatCheesePlate Marissa Mullen takes cheese to a whole new level with her gorgeous, show-stopping cheese plates. With her simple step-by-step Cheese by Numbers method, she breaks down the cheese plate into its basic components--cheese, meat (aka the Salami River), produce, crunch, dips, garnish--and shows you how to recreate these beautiful spreads for any occasion, whether it's a dinner party, a book club gathering, wine nights with friends, or your classy Netflix binge. 

I first found out about Marissa Mullen's cheese expertise when I stumbled upon her Instagram account. I LOVE cheese and I'm always dreaming of making fun charcuterie boards, so this book really helps jog my mind. If you're a cheese love, charcuterie lover, or just a plain ol' food lover you will most definitely love this book! 

If you like That Cheese Plate Will Change Your Life you might also like... 

by Eric Greenspan
California: Ten Speed Press. 2018. 143 pages. Nonfiction

Greenspan helps readers take the grilled cheese sandwich to another level, while keeping true to what it is at its core: delicious. He dedicates each chapter to a cheese; each recipe makes four sandwiches. But his intent is that readers play with the recipes, using them as inspiration for their own creations-- and have fun doing so.

by Liz Thorpe
New York; Flat Iron Books 2017. 406 pages. Nonfiction. .

From basics like Swiss, blue, and cheddar, Liz leads the way to more adventurous types. Love Brie? Liz Thorpe shows you how to find other Brie-like cheeses, from the mild Moses Sleeper to the pungent Fromage de Meaux. Her revolutionary approach allows food lovers to focus on what they really care about: finding more cheeses to enjoy. Complete with flavor and aroma wheels, charts guiding you through different intensities and availabilities, and gorgeous photography, this is the only book on cheese you will ever need.

by Allison Arevalo
Berkeley; Ten Speed Press. 20013. 117 pages. Nonfiction. Coobook.

A fun and playful cookbook featuring retro, decadent, and kid-friendly mac-and-cheese recipes from the popular Oakland restaurant Homeroom. The 50 recipes range from Vegan Mac to Triple Cream Mac, with plenty of permutations in between--like macs with stinky cheeses, veggie-lover macs, classic homestyle recipes like Tuna Mac, and international varieties like Sriracha Mac and Mexican Mac.


Wednesday, December 1, 2021

En un rincón del alma

book cover image
En un rincón del alma
Por Antonia J. Corrales 
Ediciones B, 2014. 205 páginas. Ficción

Cuando goza de lo que para muchas personas sería una situación privilegiada (buen estatus económico y social, hijos mayores e independientes), Jimena, se siente más sola que nunca. Su vida ha pasado como un destello de luz ante sus ojos, sin darle tiempo a vivir, a sentir o ser la persona que en realidad es. Es entonces cuando toma consciencia de que es una desconocida para los suyos, que ha pasado lo mejor de su vida viviendo la vida de los que amaba, sin vivir la suya propia. La infidelidad de su marido, la perdida de una de sus amigas y la marcha de su amante, la llevaran a replantearse muchos valores e ideales y retomar las riendas de su presente.

Si le gusta En un rincón del alma, le recomendamos:

Whitaker House Español, 2019. 144 páginas. Autoayuda

Muchas mujeres tienen un problema serio de baja autoestima. Eso no les permite mirarse a sí mismas como personas competentes y capaces. Una baja autoestima paraliza a la mujer a tal punto, que no solamente se afecta su desarrollo personal, sino también sus relaciones familiares. Conocemos a las mujeres como madres y pilares de sus hogares, sin embargo, muy profundo en sus corazones tienen anhelos de crecer en otras áreas de su vida, pero se sienten menos. Omayra Font, exitosa emprendedora internacional, te abre la puerta hacia tu grandeza personal en su libro Mujer, valórate, escrito con la autoridad y la inspiración de una mujer que ha superado grandes adversidades, y ha sabido luchar hasta lograr lo que se ha propuesto. Aprende a valorarte como la mujer que eres en verdad, y prepárate a ser quien siempre has deseado ser.

book cover imageUna reina como tú
Por Francisca Lachapel
Atria Español, 2018. 186 páginas. Biografía

En «Una reina como tú», su primera autobiografía, Francisca relata su intensa e inspiradora historia de adversidades, alegrías, dudas y esperanzas con una honestidad conmovedora. Desde sus primeros años en el pequeño pueblo de Azua en la República Dominicana, sus inicios en el teatro y los demonios de su infancia, hasta su conversión en entrañable figure pública en los Estados Unidos, Francisca Lachapel nos lleva de la mano por los laberintos de una vida que es, sobre todas las cosas, la prueba extraordianaria de que aún los sueños más hermosas están al alcance de quien se atreve a luchar por ellos.


This One Wild And Precious Life

This One Wild And Precious Life: The Path Back to Connection in a Fractured World
By Sarah Wilson
Dey St., 2020. 344 pages. Nonfiction

Many of us are living with the sense that things are not right with the world as global problems continue to mount, leaving us in a state of spiritual PTSD. We have retreated, morally and psychologically; we are experiencing a crisis of disconnection—from one another, from our true values, from joy, and from life as we feel we are meant to be living it. Sarah Wilson argues that this sense of despair and disconnection is ironically what unites us—that deep down, we are all feeling that same itch for a new way of living.

Each chapter's heading is written like a small poem, making every word feel deliberate. With notes included in the margins and a vast array of topics that seem separate yet connected, This One Wild and Precious Life provides a peek into a world both new and familiar. Drawing on science, literature, philosophy and the wisdom of some of the world's leading experts, and her personal journey, Wilson weaves a one-of-a-kind narrative that lights the way back to the life we love.

If you liked This One Wild And Precious Life, you may also like:

For Small Creatures Such As We: Rituals For Finding Meaning In Our Unlikely World
By Sasha Sagan
G. P. Putnam's Sons, 2019. 275 pages. Nonfiction

Sasha Sagan was raised by secular parents, the astronomer Carl Sagan and the writer and producer Ann Druyan. They taught her that the natural world and vast cosmos are full of profound beauty, that science reveals truths more wondrous than any myth or fable. When Sagan herself became a mother, she began her own hunt for the natural phenomena behind our most treasured occasions that honor the joy and significance of each experience, providing a luminous exploration of Earth's marvels that require no faith in order to be believed.

By Sharon Salzberg
Flatiron Books, 2020. 230 pages. Nonfiction

In today's fractured world we're constantly flooded with breaking news that cause anger, grief, and pain. People feel so burnt out and overwhelmed that they end up frozen in their tracks and can't do anything. Salzberg teaches us that meditation is not a replacement for action, but rather a way to practice generosity with ourselves and summon the courage to break through boundaries, reconnect to a movement that's bigger than ourselves, and have the energy to stay active. Her fundamental principles and mindfulness practices will lead to the clarity and confidence that lets us lift a foot and take our next step into a better world.


Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Poet Warrior

By Joy Harjo
W.W. Norton & Company, 2021. 226 pages. Biography

In the second memoir from the first Native American to serve as US poet laureate, Joy Harjo invites us to travel along the heartaches, losses, and humble realizations of her "poet-warrior" road. A musical, kaleidoscopic meditation, Poet Warrior reveals how Harjo came to write poetry of compassion and healing, poetry with the power to unearth the truth and demand justice. Weaving together the voices that shaped her, Harjo listens to stories of ancestors and family, the poetry and music that she first encountered as a child, the teachings of a changing earth, and the poets who paved her way. 

I loved this memoir by Joy Harjo because she has an expert voice and immerses you into her story. On a whim, I started reading the poetry bits out loud and was amazed at how that brought more depth and meaning to her words. I felt her connection to her family, ancestors, heritage, and beliefs. Her memoir is powerful and a work of art. 

If you like Poet Warrior you might also like: 

By Daniel Nayeri
Levine Querido, 2020. 356 pages. YA Fiction

To Khosrou's classmates, he is a dark-skinned, hairy-armed boy with a big butt whose lunch smells funny. But Khosrou's stories, stretching back centuries, are beautiful and terrifying. We bounce between a school bus of kids armed with paper clip missiles and spitballs to the heroines and heroes of Khosrou's family's past. Like Scheherazade in a hostile classroom, Khosrou weaves a tale to save his own life, to stake his claim to the truth. 

By Noé Álvarez
Catapult, 2020. 218 pages. Biography

Growing up in Yakima, Washington, Noé Álvarez worked at an apple-packing plant alongside his mother. At nineteen, he learned about a Native American/First Nations movement called the Peace and Dignity Journeys, epic marathons meant to renew cultural connections across North America. He dropped out of school and joined a group of Dené, Secwépemc, Gitxsan, Dakelh, Apache, Tohono O'odham, Seri, Purépecha, and Maya runners, all fleeing difficult beginnings. Telling their stories alongside his own, Álvarez writes about his journey from Canada to Guatemala that pushed him to his limits. Running through mountains, deserts, and cities, and through the Mexican territory his parents left behind, Álvarez forges a new relationship with the land, and with the act of running, carries the dream of a liberated future. 

By Aimee Nezhukumatathil
Milkweed Editions, 2020. 165 pages. Nonfiction

From award-winning poet Aimee Nezhukumatathil comes a debut work of nonfiction--a collection of essays about the natural world, and the way its inhabitants can teach, support, and inspire us. As a child, Nezhukumatathil called many places home: the grounds of a Kansas mental institution, where her Filipina mother was a doctor; the open skies and tall mountains of Arizona, where she hiked with her Indian father; and the chillier climes of western New York and Ohio. But no matter where she was transplanted--no matter how awkward the fit or forbidding the landscape--she was able to turn to our world's fierce and funny creatures for guidance. 


Monday, November 22, 2021

Teen Titans: Beast Boy Loves Raven

Teen Titans: Beast Boy Loves Raven 
By Kami Garcia 
DC Comics, 2021. 190 pages. Young Adult Graphic Novel 

While Raven Roth is finding a way to get rid of her demon father Trigon, Garfield Logan is understanding his newly found shapeshifting ability, and when their paths cross in Nashville they both feel a strong connection to one another. 

There are so many things to love about this book. The romance is sweet and develops naturally. The characters are true to their comic book selves while still feeling fresh and contemporary. The story builds slowly, but is action-packed once things start. This is a classic superhero story, but has enough romance, self-discovery, and humor to entertain any reader. 

If you like Teen Titans: Beast Boy Loves Raven, you might also like: 
By Brandon Sanderson 
Delacorte Press, 2013. 386 pages. Young Adult Fiction 

At age eight, David watched as his father was killed by an Epic, a human with superhuman powers, and now, ten years later, he joins the Reckoners--the only people who are trying to kill the Epics and end their tyranny. 

By Jason Reynolds Marvel, 2017. 261 pages. Young Adult Fiction 

As a student at Brooklyn Visions Academy, Miles Morales knows he's lucky. Not all kids get this opportunity, especially not kids from his neighborhood. With his quirky best friend Ganke, this school year is gonna be a blast. Right? Wrong. Miles has a secret. He's actually Spider-Man. Well not THE Spider-Man but A Spider-Man. Pretty much the only Spider-Man in town now that Peter Parker is gone. Miles is doing his best to save every little old lady but it's getting to be too much. He's got more important stuff to worry about like homework, girls, family, the perfect Halloween costume, and girls. Did we mention girls? Ok well maybe just one girl. But when Miles accidentally discovers a villainous teacher's plan to turn good kids bad, he will need to come to terms with his own destiny as the new SPIDER-MAN.

By Pittacus Lore 
Harper, 2010. 440 pages. Young Adult Fiction 

In rural Ohio, friendships and a beautiful girl prove distracting to a fifteen-year-old who has hidden on Earth for ten years waiting to develop the Legacies, or powers, he will need to rejoin the other six surviving Garde members and fight the Mogadorians who destroyed their planet, Lorien. 

By Rodney Barnes 
Oni-Lion Forge Publishing, 2021. 144 pages. Young Adult Graphic Novel 

Quinton West went from being a small guy getting beaten up to a small guy with the superpower of invulnerability. To supplement his only superpower, he realizes he can use his hobby of creating Rube Goldberg devices to outsmart opponents.


Friday, November 19, 2021

Fade Out

Fade Out
By Nova Ren Suma
Simon & Schuster, 2009. 272 pages. YA Fiction. 

Imaginative thirteen-year-old Dani feels trapped in her small mountain town with only film noir at the local art theater and her depressed mother for company, but while trying to solve a real mystery she learns much about herself and life.

Dani Callanzano is a spitfire teen engrossed in the melodramatic world of noir film and teenage feelings. Dani is navigating changes that many young people experience; changes in her friendships, changes in her family, and changes within herself. Not unlike her noir film stars, Dani's story is fraught with betrayal, boys, and big feelings. Though Dani does have a flair for the dramatics (what noir star doesn't), and does not always make the best choices when navigating her changing life, she feels completely relatable in the context of her story. This is a great read for anyone who feels or remembers the high-stakes angst of teenage life. anyone who has wished they could lock themselves away from their problems in a dark movie theater (with lots of popcorn, obviously), and anyone who needs a reminder to stay true to themselves and embrace their (albeit over-the-top dramatic) feelings sometimes. 

If you like Fade Out, you might also like....
By Sarah Everette 
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2021. 359 pages. YA Fiction

Jessi is caught between two brothers as the three navigate family, loss, and love over the course of her seventeenth and eighteenth summers.

One Great Lie
By Deb Caletti
Atheneum, 2021. 375 pages. YA Fiction.

Charlotte's dream of a summer writing workshop in Venice with her favorite author brings the chance to investigate the mysterious poet in her family's past, meet fascinating new people, and learn truths about her idol.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Creepy Cat Volume 1

Creepy Cat Volume 1 
By Cotton Valent 
Seven Seas Entertainment, 2021. 180 pages. Young Adult Graphic Novel 

Flora moves into a mysterious mansion and finds it inhabited by a strange creature--Creepy Cat! Thus begins her strange and sometimes dangerous life with a feline roommate. This Gothic comedy brings the chuckles...and the chills! With full-color illustrations, this graphic novel originated as a webcomic by Thai artist Cotton Valent. 

This is an absolutely hilarious comic about living with cats and the creepy things they do. There is romance, humor, mystery, all wrapped up in a gothic setting. This is a great read for anyone who loves cats, paranormal adventures, or funny comic books. 

If you like Creepy Cat, you might also like: 
By Sarah Andersen 
Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2020. 100 pages. Graphic Novel 

Elsie the vampire is three hundred years old, but in all that time, she has never met her match. This all changes one night in a bar when she meets Jimmy, a charming werewolf with a wry sense of humor and a fondness for running wild during the full moon. Together they enjoy horror films and scary novels, shady strolls, fine dining (though never with garlic), and a genuine fondness for each other's unusual habits, macabre lifestyles, and monstrous appetites. 

Edited by 
Andrew McMeel Publishing, 2012. 130 pages. Graphic Novel 

A hilarious, brilliant offering of cat comics, facts, and instructional guides from the creative wonderland at 

By Caitlin Doughty 
W. W. Norton & Company, 2019. 222 pages. Nonfiction 

Best-selling author and licensed mortician Caitlin Doughty answers real questions from kids about death, dead bodies, and decomposition. Every day, funeral director Caitlin Doughty receives dozens of questions about death. What would happen to an astronaut's body if it were pushed out of a space shuttle? Do people poop when they die? Can Grandma have a Viking funeral? In the tradition of Randall Munroe's What If?, Doughty's new book blends her scientific understanding of the body and the intriguing history behind common misconceptions about corpses to offer factual, hilarious, and candid answers to thirty-five urgent questions posed by her youngest fans. Readers will learn what happens if you die on an airplane, the best soil for mummifying your dog, and whether or not you can preserve your friend's skull as a keepsake. Featuring illustrations from Dianne Ruz, Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? will delight anyone interested in the fascinating truth about what will happen (to our bodies) after we die. 

By Kaiu Shirai 
Viz Media, 2017. 183 pages. Young Adult Graphic Novel 

Emma, Norman and Ray are the brightest kids at the Grace Field House orphanage. And under the care of the woman they refer to as 'Mom, ' all the kids have enjoyed a comfortable life. Good food, clean clothes and the perfect environment to learn-- what more could an orphan ask for? One day, though, Emma and Norman uncover the dark truth of the outside world they are forbidden from seeing.


The Body: A Guide for Occupants

The Body: A Guide for Occupants
By Bill Bryson
Doubleday Book, 2019. 450 pages. Nonfiction

This book walks the reader through each system in the human body, noting how it functions and recounting short histories of how discoveries were made in that particular area.  Bryson is well-known for taking nonfiction subjects and making them both understandable and entertaining, and this book didn't disappoint, in fact it might be one of his best.  

Some aspects of anatomy, biology, and medicine can be dry or difficult to understand, but Bryson successfully repackages them into basic but compelling understandings of how the human body works and how many medical breakthroughs have been discovered.  One gains a deeper appreciation of our amazing bodies while reading, as well as a deeper desire to care for them as they care so well for us, to ensure we have a little more time with them comfortably while we are here on this earth.


If you liked The Body: A Guide for Occupants, you might also like: 

Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal
By Mary Roach
Norton & Company, 2013. 336 pages. Nonfiction

The humor scientist behind Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers and Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife takes a tour of the human digestive system, explaining why the stomach doesn't digest itself and whether constipation can kill you.

Idiot Brain: What Your Head is Really Up To
By Dean Burnett
Norton & Company, 2016. 336 pages. Nonfiction

A delightful tour of our mysterious, mischievous gray matter from neuroscientist and massively popular Guardian blogger Dean Burnett.

Monday, November 15, 2021

Beyond the Mapped Stars

Beyond the Mapped Stars 
By Rosalyn Eves
Alfred A Knopf, 2021. 371 pages. Young Adult Fiction 

Seventeen-year-old Elizabeth Bertelsen dreams of becoming an astronomer, but those dreams feel as far away as the stars she so deeply adores. When she unexpectedly finds herself in Colorado, she's tempted by the total eclipse of the sun that's about to happen--and maybe even meeting up with the female scientists she's long admired. Elizabeth must learn to navigate this new world of possibility: with her familial duties and faith tugging at her heartstrings, a new romance on the horizon, and the study of the night sky calling to her, she can't possibly have it all ... can she?

I really enjoyed this book. It’s a richly detailed story about Elizabeth’s struggles to follow dreams that were rarely realized by women like her in 1878. She has been raised with very set views of what a woman’s roles are, and her desire to study astronomy challenges those preconceptions head-on. Can she pursue the sciences while also being true to her faith? Does she have to give up being a wife and mother like so many other female scientists? Elizabeth’s story will inspire and serve as a reminder to follow your dreams. 

If you liked Beyond the Mapped Stars, you might also like: 

Under a Painted Sky 
By Stacey Lee
G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2015. 374 pages. Young Adult Fiction 

In 1845, Sammy, a Chinese American girl, and Annamae, an African American slave girl, disguise themselves as boys and travel on the Oregon Trail to California from Missouri. 

The Shakeress 
By Kimberley Burton Heuston
Front Street, 2002. 207 pages. Young Adult Fiction 

While searching for her true self and for the way to meet the needs of her personal sense of spirituality, an orphaned teenaged girl joins a Shaker community in mid-nineteenth century New England and learns about a new religion called Mormonism. 


Friday, November 12, 2021

Tokyo Ever After

Tokyo Ever After 
By Emiko Jean
Flatiron Books, 2021. 322 pages. Young Adult Fiction 

After learning that her father is the Crown Prince of Japan, Izumi travels to Tokyo, where she discovers that Japanese imperial life--complete with designer clothes, court intrigue, paparazzi scandals, and a forbidden romance with her handsome but stoic bodyguard--is a tough fit for the outspoken and irreverent 18-year-old from northern California. 

This book was incredibly hard for me to put down. I loved it! Izumi has a hard time feeling like she fits in anywhere. Her Japanese ancestry makes her stand out from others in her small town of Mount Shasta, and when she travels to Japan she stands out because she doesn’t know the language or much of the culture. Despite trying to meet the expectations of those around her, it’s not until she accepts her own uniqueness that she’s really able to flourish. 

While the plot doesn’t break new ground in the YA romance genre, it was still charming and I loved the setting. First in a planned series, I will definitely be looking for #2 when it comes out next year. 

If you liked Tokyo Ever After, you might also like: 

The Princess Diaries 
By Meg Cabot
Harper Avon, 2000. 238 pages. Young Adult Fiction 

Fourteen-year-old Mia, who is trying to lead a normal life as a teenage girl in New York City, is shocked to learn that her father is the Prince of Genovia, a small European principality, and that she is a princess and the heir to the throne. 

American Panda 
By Gloria Chao
Simon Pulse, 2018. 310 pages. Young Adult Fiction 

A freshman at MIT, 17-year-old Mei Lu tries to live up to her Taiwanese parents' expectations, but no amount of tradition, obligation, or guilt prevent her from hiding several truths--that she is a germaphobe who cannot become a doctor, she prefers dancing to biology, she decides to reconnect with her estranged older brother, and she is dating a Japanese boy. 




by E.K. Johnston

Dutton Books, 2021. 244 pages. Young Adult Fiction.

After escaping her abusive family's interstellar merchant ship, seventeen-year-old Pendt lands on a remote space station run by the Brannick twins, and together they make plans to thwart the destinies they never wanted.

Johnston packs a lot of world building into a really small space with this book. Each thread of point of view adds to the history of the Pendt’s galaxy, like the brutality of long spacer missions and the unfair gene manipulation of the Staevenger Empire. The characterization is solid; each character shows growth as Johnston reveals facets of their personalities. The story is fast paced and compelling; it will keep you thinking long after you have finished the book.  

If you liked Aetherbound you might also like:

Aurora Rising

by Amie Kaufman

Alfred A. Knopf, 2019. 470 pages. Young Adult Fiction

2380. The graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the Academy would touch, from a sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates to an alien warrior with anger management issues. But Ty's biggest problem is Aurora Jie-Lin O'Malley, who he just rescued from interdimensional space. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time-- but she could be the catalyst that starts a war millions of years in the making.

The Darkness Outside of Us

by Eliot Schrefer

Katherine Teegan Books, 2021. 397 pages. Young Adult Fiction.


Two boys, alone in space. Sworn enemies sent on the same rescue mission. Ambrose wakes up on the Coordinated Endeavor with no memory of a launch. There's more that doesn't add up: evidence indicates strangers have been on board, the ship's operating system is voiced by his mother, and his handsome, brooding shipmate has barricaded himself away. But nothing will stop Ambrose from making his mission succeed--not when he's rescuing his own sister. In order to survive the ship's secrets, Ambrose and Kodiak will need to work together and learn to trust each other . . . especially once they discover what they are truly up against.


Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Cloud Cuckoo Land

Cloud Cuckoo Land
by Anthony Doerr
Scribner, 2021. 626 pages. Fiction

From 1453 Constantinople to present-day Lakeport, Idaho, to a spaceship bound for a distant exoplanet sometime in the future, the lives of dreamers and outcasts are connected by their involvement in preserving a little-known work of Greek fiction called Cloud Cuckoo Land. In 1453, Anna and Omeir are two teens on different sides during the fall of Constantinople, where they unwittingly work together to save the little-known Greek manuscript from destruction. In present-day Lakeport, Idaho, a senior uses his knowledge of Greek to translate the tale, and in the process he enriches the lives of the teens at the local library. On a spaceship in the future, Konstance staves off the psychological effects of isolation by trying to record the tale, as it was told to her long ago by her father.

This much-anticipated novel from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of All the Light We Cannot See is beautifully written and captivating. Although the book jumps between about six different timelines, along with snippets of the Greek tale that binds each story together, the book flows with relative ease and doesn't get too bogged down or confusing. The result is a story that focuses on finding hope during times of darkness, and on how little actions can have big impacts far into the future.

If you liked Cloud Cuckoo Land you might also like:

by Monica Byrne
HarperCollins, 2021, 608 pages. Science Fiction

Jumping between the years 1012, 2012, and 3012, travel forward and backward in time, among a pair of twins who ruled a Maya kingdom; a young American woman on a trip of self-discovery; and two dangerous charismatics in a conflict that will determine the fate of the few humans left on Earth after massive climate change. Among entanglements of tradition and progress, sister and stranger, love and hate, age-old questions about existence and belonging and identity converge deep underground. Because only in complete darkness can one truly see the stars.
by Alex Landrigan
St. Martin's Press, 2019. 359 pages. Fiction

Crossings is a novel in three parts, designed to be read in two different directions, spanning 150 years and seven lifetimes. On the brink of the Nazi occupation of Paris, a German-Jewish bookbinder stumbles across a manuscript called Crossings. It has three narratives, each as unlikely as the next. And the narratives can be read one of two ways: either straight through or according to an alternate chapter sequence. With each new chapter, the stunning connections between these seemingly disparate stories grow clearer and more extraordinary. 


Monday, November 8, 2021

The Dark Net: Inside the Digital Underworld

The Dark Net: Inside the Digital Underworld
By Jamie Bartlett
Melville House, 2015. 320 pages. Nonfiction

Beyond the familiar online world that most of us inhabit — a world of Google, Facebook, and Twitter — lies a vast and often hidden network of sites, communities, and cultures where freedom is pushed to its limits, and where people can be anyone, or do anything, they want. This is the world of Bitcoin and Silk Road, of radicalism and pornography. This is the Dark Net. In this important and revealing book, Jamie Bartlett takes us deep into the digital underworld and presents an extraordinary look at the internet we don't know.

This is honestly a hard book to read at times.  While some aspects of the Dark Net can be liberating, it's hard to read how people's worst instincts and inclinations can be manifested as well. And yet, there is something to be said for being aware of what is happening in "the Dark Net."  If we live in ignorance of it, we risk never being equipped to deal with how it can impact our lives offline.  A challenging but thought-provoking read.


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