Friday, September 28, 2018

Check Me Out

by Rebecca Wilhite
Shadow Mountain, 2018. 358 pgs. Romance

Greta loves her job as assistant librarian in her hometown. When she meets the gorgeous Mac in the poetry section, Greta thinks that her life might be perfect. But Mac seems like a different person in his texts versus his real life conversations, and Greta must decide if good looks or a good heart are more important. When her library faces closure, Greta tries everything she can to save it, and repeatedly finds herself turning to her best friend Will, rather than Mac. Which of the two will she choose, and can she save her beloved library?

This was a light-hearted, fun read. As a librarian, I related to many of the activities and quirky things that happened in the library.  The relationship with Mac felt a little superficial and shallow, but I really liked the development of relationship with Will, although I felt that Greta was very oblivious to his feelings and how he was helping Mac to sound smarter. I enjoyed all of the different methods that were used to try and save the library and the theme of political activism was an interesting addition. This is a fun, clean read and would be great for anyone who likes contemporary romances.


Thursday, September 27, 2018


by Ibi Aanu Zoboi
Balzer + Bray, 2018. 289 pgs. Young Adult Fiction

Zuri Benitez has pride in her Brooklyn neighborhood, her family, and her Afro-Latino roots. But, she begins to feel set adrift when her neighborhood starts to be “upgraded” and taken over by the upper and middle class. When the Darcy family moves in across the street, Zuri instantly dislikes the two teenage sons, especially the judgmental and arrogant Darius.  In this timely retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Zuri must find her place amidst the changes, from looming college applications to an unwanted relocation with her family. And will Zuri find love amidst despite her initial misgivings about Darius Darcy?

This is a fun and interesting take on a classic. I was intrigued by the characters, but felt that the plot was rushed at times, so there was a lack of character development. As someone with a biracial family, I recognized many of the concerns and issues that were presented as things that I think about for my own children. There is strong language in 2-3 scenes, but otherwise is clean. This is a good read for anyone who enjoys retellings of classic literature or who is looking for a new perspective on the world.


The Tao of Pooh

The Tao of Pooh
By Benjamin Hoff
Dutton Books, 1982. 158 pgs. Nonfiction

In this introduction to the belief system of Taoism, Hoff explains how A.A. Milne’s character of Winnie-the-Pooh, by being effortlessly calm, still, and reflective, is actually a great Taoist master. By comparing Taoist principals with scenes from A.A. Milne’s stories, it makes the belief system clear and easy to understand for anyone.

I checked this audiobook out from Overdrive on a whim, and I’m so glad I did. I knew very little about Taoism, but I feel like the juxtaposition of Taoist principals and Winnie-the-Pooh stories really worked well to explain the belief system. Simon Vance narrated the audiobook, and it was a pleasure to listen to as he voiced all the different A.A. Milne characters. I could easily recommend this for anyone interested in learning about Eastern belief systems.


Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Storm Front 
by Jim Butcher
New American Library, 2000. 322 pgs. Fantasy

 Harry Dresden is a professional wizard who knows that the world that we all know and love is more complicated than we think. The world is full of strange magical things and most of them do not like humans, so he works as a detective consultant. When the Chicago Police Department brings him in to consult on a double homicide reeking of black magic, Harry is ready to go to war but there is always someone behind the spell and now they are after Harry.

 So I have heard people mention this series for a long time but hadn’t ever gotten around to reading it. It was so much fun to listen to. Harry is a very compelling main character he is tall wears a canvas duster and his dialogue is fascinating. I love his advisor who happens to live in a skull Bob. Overall a fun book and I am excited to read the rest of the series.


Iron and Magic

Iron and Magic 
by Ilona Andrews
NYLA, 2018, 406 pgs. Fantasy

 Hugh d’Ambray Warlord of the Builder of Towers has only ever served Roland a nearly omnipotent master who has cast him aside. Hugh is broken but when his Iron Dogs appeal to him for safety he has a decision to make, drink himself to death or be the leader his men need him to be. When Elara Harper needs some mercenaries to keep her people safe she will stop at nothing not even marrying the warlord over the men she needs to protect her castle.

 Alright so if you have not been reading the Kate Daniels Series put this book down until you have read everything from Magic Bites to Magic Binds, it makes a difference I promise. While it is technically a standalone series everything will be so much better if you have all the background. That being said I really had a lot of fun with this branch of the story! I laughed so much and Elara and Hugh fought over the moat and held my breath right along with the characters as they fought necromancers and vampires. Not a clean read but I really enjoyed myself.


The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want

The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want
By Sonja Lyubomirsky
Penguin Press, 2008. 384 pages. Nonfiction

Lyubomirsky uses research to explain what true happiness is and how to obtain it. She provides a guide to improving personal happiness and assessments to measure where you are on your personal happiness scale. In addition, she includes different strategies and activities to help improve intentional living to increase joy in everyday life. The research in this book emphasizes that happiness can be created regardless of circumstances or genetics.

This is a good read for those who want a gateway book into the positive psychology realm. Lyubomirsky does a good job at creating a base of understanding for those new to psychology studies. The ideas in her book, though not ground breaking, are supported by research which gave more weight to her arguments. If you are new to self-help or positive psychology, then this is a good book for you.


Saturday, September 22, 2018

Relic (Pendergast #1)

Relic Pendergast #1
by Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child
New York : Forge, 1996, c1995. 468 pages. Fiction.

Just days before a massive exhibition opens at the popular New York Museum of Natural History, visitors are being savagely murdered in the museum's dark hallways and secret rooms. Autopsies indicate that the killer cannot be human...
But the museum's directors plan to go ahead with a big bash to celebrate the new exhibition, in spite of the murders.
Museum researcher Margo Green must find out who--or what--is doing the killing. But can she do it in time to stop the massacre?
This thriller will entice readers of many different interests as concepts from archeology, paleontology, museology, and other sciences are used to help solve the baffling string of murders. Add foreign myth into the mix and you've got a unique and exhilarating page turner. Choosing a large natural history museum as the setting creates a dark and chilling atmosphere and adds surprise to the many plot twists.
Seeing as this is the Pendergast Series, the small number of appearances made by FBI Special Agent Pendergast is a bit baffling. I also thought the story developed a bit too slow, but once the action starts it never stops. This book is good for those who seek a thriller with just a touch of academia and a killer monster that isn't a werewolf or vampire. 


Friday, September 21, 2018

To Be Where You Are

To Be Where You Are 
by Jan Karon
 Putnam Publishing Group, 2017. 450 pages. Fiction

 This is the fourteenth installment of The Mitford Series that follows the adventures of episcopal priest Father Tim Kavanagh. For Father Tim and Cynthia, it’s time to drink green smoothies and get moving to fight off osteoporosis. Father Tim has been retired for twelve years and is finally getting used to it, but soon he is offered a job and new adventures.

Father Tim’s son Dooley is three months into owning his own veterinary practice and three months into his marriage with Lace and their fostering of four year old Jack Tyler. Things couldn’t be better, but then the pipes break in the clinic and Dooley and Lace are faced with draining their savings to rebuild. Will their marriage be tested beyond what it can withstand?

 These charming stories about Father Tim are refreshingly clean and wholesome without being too cheesy. I love the Father Tim’s quotes, and the poems, and the snatches of hymns. Life in Mitford may seem too good to be true, but it feels authentic. These books are about good people who sometimes deal with hard times, but the help of their community and their various faiths, they come through.


Friday, September 14, 2018

Your Second Life Begins When You Realize You Only Have One

Your Second Life Begins When You Realize You Only Have One 
by Raphaëlle Giordano
G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2018. 244 pages. General Fiction

From the outside, no one might guess that Camille is miserable. She has a career, a roof over her head -in Paris no less, a hard working husband, an adoring son, and yet she can’t seem to figure out why she is so very unhappy. When car trouble on a rainy night leads her to what would be a creepy mansion in another story, she meets Claude, a “routinologist” who claims to have the cure for Camille’s unshakable blues. Through a series of letters, activities, and exercises, Clause helps Camille to retrain her brain to break through the clouds of hopelessness and find the joy in life again.

I was attracted to this book by the very title, and it delivered what I imagined it would, a story of rebirth and finding oneself. Though not altogether unique or surprising in its content, following Camille as she rediscovers her happiness and finds meaning in her life was hopeful and inspiring, something that we could all use a little more of these days. The focus of many tasks which Claude assigns to Camille could be easily repeated by the reader, such as a gratitude journal or daily meditation, and are tried and true methods for finding greater peace and happiness. In that way, this book works as both an uplifting self-help book and a light, relatable read.


Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Dread Nation

Cover image for Dread nation : rise up
Dread Nation
By Justina Ireland
Balzer + Bray, 2018, 451 pages, Young Adult Horror

In the middle of the Civil War, the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, changing the fate of the nation forever. Instead of gaining their freedom, African Americans and other minority groups are expected to become Attendants (zombie hunters), trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the wealthy. Almost finished with her education at a combat school, Jane looks forward to returning home and fighting for the freedom of her plantation. But when families around the county start to go missing, Jane is the only one willing to look into their mysterious disappearances

With a strong African American female lead, this book is being hailed for its diversity. This was my favorite aspect of the whole book. The author forces the reader to look at the question of race and slavery in a different way, and I thought it was excellently done. But this novel isn’t just a commentary on racism; this is also a zombie novel. The premise of this book is tight and interesting; and the mystery Jane solves is fascinating and horrifying, and it kept me guessing. The cliffhanger ending left things a bit too unresolved for my liking, especially since it involved zombies threatening to take over the world! It’s going to be hard to wait patiently for the next book in the series.

If you like action/adventure/horror novels, or historical fiction told from a new viewpoint (one of my favorite examples of this is Under a Painted Sky), you’ll find something to like in Dread Nation.


Spinning Silver

Cover image for Spinning silver
Spinning Silver
By Naomi Novik
Del Rey, 2018, 466 pages, Fantasy

Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders, but her father is not a very good one. Free to lend and reluctant to collect, he has left his family on the edge of poverty—until Miryem intercedes. Hardening her heart, she sets out to retrieve what is owed, and soon gains a reputation for being able to turn silver into gold. But when an ill-advised boast brings her to the attention of the cold creatures who haunt the wood, nothing will be the same again.

Novik’s retelling of the Rumplestiltskin fairytale looks almost nothing like the original. Her skill in taking a classic story and reworking it into something completely new and refreshing leaves me in awe. The story is told from the viewpoint of multiple characters, and each one of them has a distinct voice and a storyline that kept me equally engaged. Fans of fairytale retellings and authors such as Katherine Arden and Eowyn Ivey won’t want to miss this one!


Tuesday, September 4, 2018

An American Marriage

by Tayari Jones
Algonquin, 2018. 308 pages, General Fiction

Roy and Celestial are just learning to navigate life together as newlyweds when they are yanked from their bed and Roy is sentenced to prison for a violent crime he didn’t commit. Inevitably, life goes on, and this story recounts through their letters to one another the ways that distance and doubt attempt to complicate love’s hold. Celestial’s uncle works diligently to get Roy’s conviction overturned, but the two must decide if there’s still a place in their hearts for one another as their realities evolve and they face their unique circumstance.

This book is an intimate portrayal of the perils and pitfalls of modern romance under strained circumstances, and the compromises it takes to live a life committed to another person. Race, though not the focus of this book, cannot be ignored, and the story comments deftly on this topic, as well as gender roles, racial disparity, and American culture. Though their story is all at once hopeful and  heartbreaking, I enjoyed the unique style of this book and getting to know Roy and Celestial through their letters to one another. I listened to the audiobook version of this title, where a male and female reader alternated narration. It was a unique, conversational format that matched the storytelling style of the book perfectly; I would highly recommend going that route.