Saturday, August 31, 2019

How to Make a French Family 
by Samantha Verant 
Sourcebooks, 2017. 336 pgs. Biography 

After finding her life in shambles from a recent divorce and job loss, Samantha decides after twenty years to apologize to the Frenchman she fell in love with and left standing on a train platform never to hear from her again. That apology changed her deepest regret and gave her and her Frenchman a second chance at love. But after the wedding is over and Sam is living in rural France with her new husband and two step-children, the reality of her sacrifice begins to set in over the newlywed bliss. Sam writes about her struggle becoming an insta-mom, an ex-patriot, and a new wife in this charming and entertaining food memoir. 

Samantha and Jean Luc's love story sucked me in right away. Sam's humor and honesty kept me reading. I was fascinated by Sam's experience as an ex-patriot, but more so I was inspired by her determination to herself and devotion to her new family. I also loved all the recipes sprinkled throughout the book. Each dish is mentioned in the narrative and had some significance to the story. I even did a quick google search and found a few recent pictures of the happy couple. If you're looking for an amazing heart-warming story, this true account is for you!


Sky Without Stars

Sky Without Stars
by Hannah Capin
Ink Yard Press, 2019. 455 pgs. Young Adult Fiction

When the Last Days came, the System Divine promised hope and new worlds upon which to build. The planet of Laterre was settled by wealthy French families and their descendants, but 500 years later the poor are starving, an elite class reigns supreme, and it constantly rains. Whispers of a revolution led by a rebel group have started and hinges on three unlikely heroes: Chatine, a poor thief looking to escape the planet and her family; Marcellus, a military officer with an infamous traitor as a father; and Aloutte, a girl living in an underground refuge protecting the last library on the planet. All three have a role to play in the revolution, but which side will win and what costs will have to be paid? This sweeping reimagining of Les Misérables in a distant solar system is full of heartache and tender moments.

Just like Les Misérables, this book is a lengthy text with vivid descriptions and a host of characters. The plot was slow building and follows the basic story of Les Misérables, but focuses more on the three teenagers and less on the Jean Valjean character. The whole book is full of references and easter eggs of the original story with unique changes and futuristic technology. I would recommend this book to readers who love Les Misérables or enjoy rich detail and complex characters.


Monday, August 26, 2019

The Lady in the Coppergate Tower

The Lady in the Coppergate Tower
By Nancy Campbell Allen
Shadow Mountain, 2019. 354 pgs. Romance

Hazel Hughes is a gifted healer who enjoys her time working with Dr. Sam MacInnes. She knows she is not his equal but is grateful for his friendship and the opportunity to spend time with him even though her heart wishes for more. Her life changes drastically when Dravor Pretescu, a Romanian count, finds her and tells her she is his niece and that she has a twin sister who is very sick and needs her help. Soon she is on her way to Romania. Sam doesn't trust the Count at all and refuses to let her go alone. The closer they get to Romania, the more sinister their trip becomes. Hazel starts to feel like she is going mad herself and is worried that they won't make it to her sister in time.

This fairty-tale retelling of Rapunzel was an entertaining mix of steampunk, horror, romance and mystery. This was the third book in Allen's steampunk series but each book could actually be read as a stand-alone. Hazel felt real and relatable and I liked how she and Sam were such good friends. The ending did seem a little rushed. After all of the build-up, I expected a little more and was surprised how quickly everything was resolved. I still recommend it for someone looking for a clean romance with a different twist.


Saturday, August 24, 2019

The Lady and the Highwayman

The Lady and the Highwayman
By Sarah M. Eden
Shadow Mountain, 2019. 344 pgs. Historical Romance

Elizabeth Black runs a girls school and brushes shoulders with the upper class. She must be prim and proper in order to have support for her school. In addition, she is a "silver-fork" author which means she writes literature for the upper class. She also secretly writes Penny Dreadfuls, which are cheap, sensational stories that would ruin her reputation if anyone ever found out. Fletcher Walker is also a Penny Dreadful author. He came from the streets, but has risen up in society. He uses his money from his writing to help fund the Dread Penny Society, which is a secret group that helps other children escape the hard life of the London streets. When a new mysterious Penny Dreadful author emerges, Fletcher is determined to discover who this Mr. King is and enlists the help of Elizabeth. They both have their own secrets to hide but feel drawn to each other anyway.

This novel by Sarah Eden felt different from her other books but I still really enjoyed it. Elizabeth and Fletcher are amazing characters. I liked how they worked their own experiences into their Penny Dreadful novels. I also liked that these two different Penny Dreadful novels were woven throughout the chapters of the book. It was like getting three books in one, which I wasn't sure would work at first, but it did. I hope this is the beginning of a new series because I would love to spend more time with these characters.


Friday, August 23, 2019

Anne Frank's Diary: The Graphic Adaptation

Anne Frank's Diary: The Graphic Adaptation
by Ari Folman
Pantheon Books, 2018. 151 pages. Graphic Novel

Like many other children past and present, Anne Frank poured out her thoughts and feelings onto the pages of her diary. Addressing it as a friend, "Dear Kitty," soon became her most trusted confidante when Anne and her family, along with others, went into hiding from Nazi occupiers in World War II Amsterdam. "Dear Kitty's" pages hold Anne's deepest thoughts, feelings, frustrations, and detail her life in the "Secret Annex" until her capture.

The best-selling book is given the graphic novel treatment, with illustrator David Polonsky bringing Anne's spirit to life with reverent celebration. I read DIARY OF A YOUNG GIRL as a teen, and felt kinship to her spunky personality. It's not for nothing her diary has captivated generations; her diary is a window into her world, once so happy and safe, suddenly plunged into darkness and danger, and to the millions of other innocents like her who suffered in the Holocaust. This graphic novel adaptation is a master work of capturing so much in comparatively so few illustrations - Anne's tumultuous relationship with her mother, the pangs of teenagehood, the crushing anxiety clashing with her fiery spirit - Polonsky has pulled off herculean feat in portraying it all.
Whether or not you've read the original, treat yourself with this adaptation.


Thursday, August 22, 2019

Introverted Mom: Your Guide to More Calm, Less Guilt, and Quiet Joy

Introverted Mom: Your Guide to More Calm, Less Guilt, and Quiet Joy 
by Jamie C. Martin
Zondervan, 2019. 233 pgs. Nonfiction

Motherhood is wonderful, but it is also hard. When introverted mothers’ quiet nature collides with the loudness and chaos that comes with children, it often results in frustration and guilt and it’s easy to feel we’re just not cut out for the role. In Introverted Mom, author Jamie Martin in an uplifting and gentle way lets you know that you aren’t alone and offers strength and understanding. Jamie shares experiences from her own life as well as thoughts from other kindred-spirit moms, as well as offers practical suggestions and inspiration for thriving as an introverted mom.

I felt so understood by this book that I cried. These pages offer understanding, hope, and guidance for the challenges introverts face with motherhood, and I loved it all. It teaches how to honor your introvertedness without hiding behind it. I think this is an excellent read that I would highly recommend to any introverted mom out there.


Catch Me If You Can

Catch Me If You Can
by Frank W. Abagnale
Broadway Books, 2000. 277 pgs. Nonfiction

This book is advertised as "The True Story of a Real Fake" and it's just as fun as it sounds! Fans of the 2002 movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks will enjoy reading an in-depth account of Frank Abagnale's adventures. In the late 1960s, he was one of the world's youngest and most sought-after con men. In his short criminal career, he impersonated a Pan Am pilot, worked for over a month as the supervising resident of a hospital, taught sociology as a college professor, and practiced law without a license. His specialty was forging and he cashed in over $2.5 million in fake checks before the age of twenty one! Abagnale is charming, quick-witted, and was able fool almost everyone he came into contact with. The reader feels like he always has good intentions, even though he's committing serious federal crimes!

I truly enjoyed this book; it is nonfiction but it reads like fiction! I was blown away by the things Abagnale was able to get away with. In today's digital age, he certainly wouldn't be able to do the same! This book is available in our digital library as well as in audiobook format. What makes his story even more fun is that Abagnale has now worked as a fraud consultant for the FBI for almost fifty years. He even owns his own financial fraud consultancy company!


Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Through the Woods

Through the Woods
by Emily Carroll
New York : Margaret K. McElderry Books, [2014] 
©2014. Unpaged. Graphic Novel.

Canadian graphic artist Carroll uses familiar horror motifs--the first wife's ghost, the monster that dwells in the forest--to create fresh and disturbing tales.

This book is delightful spooky. The stories remind me of Alvin Schwartz's Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and the illustrations are quite chilling. I would recommend this book to those who enjoy suspense and horror, and especially to those who are eager for Halloween to be upon us. 


Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Mera: Tidebreaker

by Danielle Paige
DC Ink, 2019. 208 pgs. Young Adult Comics

Long before she was queen of Atlantis, Mera had to choose between following her heart or her mission to kill. In order to save her people, Mera feels that she must kill Arthur Curry (Aquaman) to end the Atlantean line of royalty. She ventures to the surface, where she encounters Arthur, but she quickly realizes that he is different than she expected. Could Arthur and Mera be the means of united their people or will they start of civil war that could destroy them all?

I am a huge superhero fan, and I absolutely loved this book. Mera has long been a strong, independent woman, but this story made her relatable and interesting. She experiences a range of teenage emotions and is able to think beyond the moment to evaluate her decisions. The illustrations are in different hues of blue, with Mera’s hair the focal point in red. The story and illustrations work together to create a complete story around Mera and Arthur. I would suggest this book to anyone who loves superheroes, strong female role models, or teenage romance.


The Island of Sea Women

The Island of Sea Women
by Lisa See
Scribner, 2019. 374 pages, General Fiction

Mi-Ja and Young-sook grew up together on Jeju Island in Korea. When they came of age, they were both selected to become “baby divers” in the island’s all female diving collective, an esteemed and often dangerous role that some women of the matriarchal society use to support themselves and their families. The girls’ relationship and the diving collective changes over the decades, as they get married, succumb to their expected roles as women, and begin families of their own, and as Korea is shaken by Japanese colonization, WWII, and the Korean War. The world around them changes quickly, sometimes violently, and the strain of this threatens their livelihood, loved ones, and even their culture.

There is a lot to unpack in this book, and it’s quite a ride to do so. The impacts of such large, world altering events as seen through the experience of the people of a small Korean island is truly eye opening and at times heartbreaking. There’s also a lot in the book to warm the heart as, in true Lisa See style, the reader grows to feel connected to the characters and care about the relationships they’ve formed with one another. Fans of sprawling, character driven, historical fiction will find this book stays with them, even after they finish reading.    


Evvie Drake Starts Over

Cover image for Evvie Drake starts over : a novel
Evvie Drake Starts Over
by Linda Holmes
Ballantine Books, 2019, 293 pages, General Fiction

Ever since her husband died, Evvie Drake lives alone in an overly large house in small-town Maine. While everyone in town thinks an inconsolable grief is what has stalled her momentum, Evvie lets them think that while she weighs her options.

Dean Tenney, a former major-league pitcher who lives in New York, is also stalled in life. He’s got a case of the “yips,” which means he suddenly can’t throw straight anymore, and he can’t figure out why.

When Dean tries to get away from it all by renting Evvie’s mother-in-law apartment, he does so with the understanding that neither of them will ask about the other person’s problems. But the more Evvie and Dean get to know each other, the more they cross the boundaries they’d initially set up. As their friendship grows, Evvie and Dean encourage each other to face their fears and figure out what they really want in the next chapters of their lives.

Those who are familiar with Linda Holmes from the podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour will hear her signature sense of humor in every line of this book. I frequently found myself laughing aloud as I read this. While this is a great light read, I also appreciated that the characters in this book had real depth, and they can’t really be together until they’ve both figured out things on their own. Those who enjoy authors like Abbi Waxman, Taylor Jenkins Reid, and Rainbow Rowell will enjoy Evvie Drake Starts Over.


The Bookish Life of Nina Hill

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill
by Abbi Waxman
Berkley, 2019. 332 pages, General Fiction

Nina Hill has a very simple and lovely life. She works in a bookstore, is an asset on her competitive trivia team, enjoys a carefully regimented schedule of exercise and socializing, and even sets aside specific time to read and do nothing with her cat. When the father she never knew she had dies, his lawyer contacts her about the reading of his will in which she is included. When he informs her that the brother and sisters who didn’t know she existed either are not happy about her encroaching on their inheritance, her simple life quickly becomes a lot more complicated.

As I read this book, I wanted to be Nina Hill, living simply and happily with her day planner and her furry friend, a mind full of trivia facts and a group of snarky, supportive friends and coworkers. While light, fluffy, romantic reads are not my go to genre, this one had enough sarcasm, wit, and sass to keep me turning the pages. This is a quick, delightful read with pop culture and literary reference abounding, a satisfyingly unpredictable turn of events, and laugh out loud moments that might make some readers blush. A fun jaunt into what it means to be family, and how you never really know what life will throw at you next.


Saturday, August 10, 2019

Curse Words (Vol. 1): The Devil's Devil

Curse Words (Vol. 1): The Devil's Devil
Author: Charles Soule, Artist: Ryan Browne
Image Comics, 2017, 152p, Graphic Novel/Fantasy

In Curse Words (Vol. 1): The Devil's Devil, the magically-powerful main character Wizord, and his knowledgeable sidekick Margaret (who starts as a rat and then later gets transformed into a koala) spend their time protecting people on Earth while also giving people their deepest desires, for a fee. Wizord's magical power shoots him to fame, which is good until his past comes back to kill him. It turns out that Wizord's master, and ultimately the source of his magic, sent Wizord across multiple dimensions to Earth with the task of destroying Earth. But when Wizord discovers that everyone on Earth (New York as the setting) is free, he switches sides in order to live free of his god-master Sizzajee. Throughout the story, Wizord will lose his powers, get them back again, and rekindle a strong love from his past, doing it all without losing a single hair from his magical beard.

For those who like Saga series by Brian Vaughn, but wish there were more magical fights, Curse Words is for you.


Thursday, August 8, 2019

Wolf Pack: How to Come Together, Unleash Our Power, and Change the Game

Wolf Pack: How to Come Together, Unleash Our Power, and Change the Game 
by Abby Wambach
Celadon Books, 2019. 112 pages. Nonfiction.

Abby Wambach is a two-time Olympic gold medalist, FIFA World Cup Champion, and the highest all-time international goal scorer for male and female soccer players. She is a passionate activist for equal rights, equal pay, and for inclusion. During her career,she was often seen as an outspoken advocate for the equal pay of female soccer players; when she retired she took up the banner for all women, everywhere. This book is her philosophy on how women and men can come together to create wolf packs that honor difference and build unity for the human race.

Stemming from her viral 2018 commencement speech to Barnard College graduates, Wambach outlines the eight new rules that people everywhere can follow to become more empowered in their leadership and more supportive in their teamwork.

  1. You were always the wolf—create your own path 
  2. Be grateful and ambitious 
  3. Lead from the bench—from wherever you are 
  4. Make failure your fuel 
  5. Champion each other 
  6. Demand the ball—believe in yourself 
  7. Bring it all—lead with humanity, cultivate leaders 
  8. Find your pack—you’re not alone 

With each rule, Wambach tells a story from her life and illustrates how the rules need to change. This book is inspirational, passionate, and short. Each chapter can be read quickly and put down so you can think about the content. It’s a great book to read all at once and then savor again.

The only trouble with this book is it might be too short. For those who have seen the viral commencement speech, this is basically the transcript. It would be fascinating to hear more about each of the rules and how to practically put them into place. This book is part of a growing genre of books based on powerful commencement speeches. If you like it, you should try out Neil Gaiman’s Make Good Art, Anna Quindlen’s A Short Guide to a Happy Life, or Lauren Graham’s In Conclusion, Don’t Worry About It.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

The Poetry of Robert Frost: The Collected Poems

by Robert Frost
New York : St. Martin's Griffin, [1979], c1969. 607 pages. Nonfiction.

The only comprehensive volume of Frost's verse available, comprising all 11 volumes of his poems, this collection has been the standard Frost compendium since its first publication in 1969.

The magic of Robert Frost's poetry is that it's simplistic nature opens the door for deeper thinking. The reader can make a personal connection by skimming the surface or by slowly dissecting the text. I found Frost's poetry (particularly the poems in fall and winter settings) to be quite a refreshing read during this hot summer season. I will note, however, that I believe this book will be best enjoyed if read with no time limit. This is not a book one would normally read cover to cover and finish in one sitting. I would recommend this book to nature lovers, those who love to write, and to both the novice and experienced poet enthusiast.


Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Going into Town: A Love Letter to New York

Going into Town: A Love Letter to New York
By Roz Chast
Bloomsbury, 2017. 176 pgs. Graphic Novel

Cartoonist Roz Chast takes a break from designing front page comic spreads of The New Yorker to create this guide to the city that stole her heart. A short but absolutely delightful read, Chast's book is divided into sections like "The Subway," "Food," and "Stuff to Do" to help readers get a feel for New York City as she sees it. As a guide, it is wildly informative and full of great advice; as a cartoon, it's hilarious and will make you laugh (if you're endowed with a good sense of humor of course).

I've loved Roz Chast for a long time--I've cited her in academic papers and read Theories of Everything dozens of times. Her cartoons are typically quirky observations of mundane everyday life: what silly thing the lady on the bus might be daydreaming about, which human objects are "proof of life on Earth," and what nature's budget might be for each season. Chast always feels like a friend who's not so much letting you in on an inside joke as creating one with you. But something about Going into Town feels even more personal and personable. Perhaps it's that it started out as a booklet for her daughter who was moving to the Big Apple for university. Perhaps it's that you can sense a real sincerity behind the words, a real love and optimism that sees the flaws and idiosyncrasies of her favorite city, and forgives and loves it all the more.

I'm moving to New York this week, and I'm both thrilled and terrified. I'm a creature of routine and I love having my things in place: my piano in the kitchen corner, my separate closets for shirts and dresses, my cats watching doves out the window or purring on my lap as I read from the stack of books on my nightstand, my friends a few streets and a text away. I am giving all these things up, and what scares me the most is the last one, being alone in the busiest city in America. But Chast's New York City is a friend itself, an enigmatic, volatile, fantastic figure that I can't wait to get to know over time. Seeing it through her eyes, in illustrated format and themed "chapters" make my upcoming move there feel less scary, more fun, and more full of discovery and possibility.


Monday, August 5, 2019

Daisies and Devotion

Daisies and Devotion
By Josi S. Kilpack
Shadow Mountain, 2019. 289 pgs. Historical Romance

Timothy Mayfield has a desire to marry for love but he does not stand to inherit and realizes that he needs to find a wife with wealth. He may have found the perfect person in Maryann Morrington. She may not be the most beautiful girl he knows, but he enjoys talking with her, she is the sister-in-law to his friend, and has a fortune that will pass to her husband. Everything changes when Timothy visits his uncle and discovers that he will be given land and a home in London if he can make a marriage match that the uncle approves of. Timothy is no longer forced to find a wealthy wife and proceeds to make a list of the qualities he wants in his spouse like blonde hair and a tinkling laugh.

Maryann knows that anyone showing interest in her is, most likely, only interested in her money. She is also fully aware that there are younger, prettier girls out there. It still hurts when Timothy comes back from his uncles and barely pays any attention to her. One of the things she has always liked about Timothy is that he is very honest in his intentions. When he shares his list with Maryann, she is wounded to realize she doesn't have one quality on it. They soon make a bargain to help each other find the perfect match but things don't go as smoothly as they would like.

This is a sequel to Promises and Primroses but it could be read alone. I really enjoyed this book from the very beginning. I like that Maryann was strong and realistic in her view of life. She was willing to have hope but also showed her vulnerability by being hurt. Timothy didn't always do things in the best way, but he has a kind heart and is so positive about life. I loved watching the two interact and evolve throughout the book. This is a clean romance that will leave you feeling warm and fuzzy.


The Pioneers: The Heroic Story of the Settlers who brought the American Ideal West

Cover image for The pioneers : the heroic story of the settlers who brought the American ideal west
The Pioneers: The Heroic Story of the Settlers who brought the American Ideal West
by David McCullough
Simon & Schuster, 2019, 331 pages, Nonfiction

As the Founding Fathers were settling the terms of the Treaty of Paris and busily creating the Constitution, others were already setting their sights on the possibilities offered in the West. This is the story of the first generation of one of the first pioneer settlements in Ohio, from its start in the late 1780s and through its evolution as an established community.

David McCullough is well known for the incredible amount of research he puts into his books, and that effort shows here. Relying on journal entries, letters, and other books written about the subject, McCullough paints a vivid picture of the lives of six of the prominent founding members of the town of Marietta, Ohio. Although this view of settling the West is rather narrow, it allows the reader to experience what it was really like to start completely over in a brand new place, and to see all the effort that goes into building a brand new community.

Those who enjoy detailed histories of a specific place like this one will also be interested in local histories. I especially recommend Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s House Full of Females, and even more locally, D. Robert Carter’s series of Provo history, starting with Founding Fort Utah.


Thursday, August 1, 2019


by David Bergen
Harry N. Abrams, 2017. 272 pgs. General Fiction

Iso Perdido is a young Guatemalan woman who works at a fertility clinic, helping rich women "take the waters" of a local lake with the hope of becoming mothers. She is soft-spoken and gentle, fiercely strong, stands up for her convictions, and loves with her whole heart. Many of the visitors to the clinic are American and Iso falls in love with one visitor in particular: Dr. Mann, the American doctor in residence. Although he is married, Iso and Dr. Mann begin an affair. Suddenly, a motorcycle accident causes Dr. Mann to be sent back home to America and leaves a pregnant Iso in a sensitive predicament. After Iso's baby is born, she is kidnapped by the director of the clinic, who sends the baby to America to live with Dr. Mann in exchange for money. Determined to bring her daughter back home, Iso travels without documentation to America and embarks upon the most important adventure of her young life.

I picked this book up from one of our display shelves simply because the cover caught my eye. The woman's piercing stare in the cover photo and the one-word title made me stop and take a few steps back. It isn't the type of book that I usually read, but I'm so glad I gave this one a chance. I found myself rooting for Iso from the very beginning, despite the fact that I didn't agree with her choice to have an affair. She is clear-headed and determined, fiercely protective of her family, and willing to go to any lengths for her child. This novel will break your heart and then put it back together again.