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What we’re reading in April… April 23, 2018

Posted by SaraC in Adventure, Book Discussion, Book List, Book Review, Fantasy, Fiction, Genre Book Discussion, Graphic Novel, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Mystery, Romance, Science Fiction, Thrillers.
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I Almost Forgot About You by Terry McMillian

Cover image for I have not read any Terry McMillian (the author of Waiting to Exhale and How Stella Got Her Groove Back), so I thought it was about dang time I did. This novel is about Georgia Young, a successful optometrist in her 50s who has “made it” in life – her successful career enabled her to buy a home in a wealthy neighborhood and live comfortably. But she is divorced, bored, and lonely. When news comes that a former lover passed away a few years earlier, it sets off a mid-life crisis that pushes Georgia to reevaluate her life and make some changes: quit her job to do something she loves, find a new home, and meet with former lovers to tell them what she never go to say to them. Terry McMillian knows how to tell a story and does a great job reading the audiobook, giving Georgia the sassy, wise-sounding voice she deserves. This is a great book for those who enjoy stories about relationships and how they define who we are. Lyndsey

 

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

Cover image for Dread Nation is an alternate history Civil War story. With zombies. The War Between the States was derailed when the dead on the battlefield walked again. Now, the North and South are united against a common enemy. To fight the undead the Native and Negro Reeducation Act became law, forcing Negro children to attend combat schools. Jane McKeene is one such student at Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore. She is training to become an lady’s Attendant. Jane dreams of returning to her plantation home in Kentucky, but instead she finds herself in the middle of a deadly conspiracy. As a new undead threat rears it’s head, Jane learns that these poor souls aren’t her biggest worry. Full of action and suspense, this isn’t just another zombie book. Jane is a badass, biracial woman killing zombies and taking on issues like institutionalized racism, sexual identity, and notions of femininity. She is clever, sassy, and a force to be reckoned with.  Megan

 

The Stand by Stephen King (adapted by Roberto Aquirre-Sacasa)

Cover image for As usual I’m working through multiple books in different formats at once. For Mystery Week in early April I began listening to the book on CD And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie during my commutes. While the large cast of characters is a bit difficult to keep straight early on in this classic, by the middle the mystery of the strange trap that has caught the characters has grabbed your attention. I am also reading Stephen King’s The Stand in graphic novel form. As adapted by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa the story is split into six volumes. At this writing I’m in volume #4. Another novel with many characters that are quite distinctly drawn. This thrilling story of survival and rebuilding society has a classic good vs. evil dynamic. And on my Kindle by my bedside is A Woman’s View: How Hollywood Spoke to Women, 1930-1960 by Jeanine Basinger, which I checked out with OverDrive. She takes a look at the genre of “Women’s Films” that featured starring women protagonists, women’s issues, and both subverted and supported the role a woman was supposed to play in society. I’ve heard of some of these film titles, but there are many others about strong women that I’ll have to add to my watch list after reading this. Byron

 

The Grifters by Jim Thompson

Cover image for Roy Dillion appears to be nothing more than a personable, hardworking salesman and has a hundred acquaintences that would swear to that very fact.  However, he is a natural of the short con; a grifter who has eschewed one of the cardinal rules of the trade and successfully worked the same city without notice.  When a sure-fire con misfires, Roy’s past catches up with him and his world begins to spiral out of control.  Trent

 

 

My Antonia by Willa Cather

Cover image for MY ANTONIAMy most current read is My Antonia, yes, an oldie but a goody. I was inspired to read this by a fellow co-worker’s blog about rediscovering the classics, and also because I  love a good coming of age story. This particular book did not disappoint. My Antonia takes place in the late 1880’s.  This is the story of Antonia, an immigrant of Bohemia, told by recently orphaned Jim Burden.  Jim is sent to rural Nebraska to live with his grandparents, also neighbors to the Shimerda family, of which Antonia is the eldest daughter.  Jim and Antonia spend their early years exploring the new landscape of rural Nebraska together and so begins a life long friendship between the two. Antonia is a bold and free spirited woman who endears herself to Jim and readers alike. Willa Cather does a wonderful job of introducing the reader to life in rural Nebraska, and the immigrant experience of adjusting  to a new world.  One can’t help but feel for Antonia’s triumphs and tribulations, and be inspired by such a strong woman. Mary

 

The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen

Cover image for The Tuscan childThe Tuscan Child is the story of Johanna Langley’s father, Sir Hugo, who dies unexpectedly. She wants to understand what happened to him during WWII. He was a British bomber pilot who was shot down over German-occupied Tuscany near the town of San Salvatore. Local resident Sofia Bartoli tended to his needs at severe risk to herself, family and village. When Johanna visits San Salvatore 30 years later, no one remembers her father or wants to talk about Sophia. This is a treat for fans of historical fiction. Emma

 

The Star of Redemption by Franz Rosenzweig

Cover image for The star of redemptionI am very interested in the writings of Franz Rosenzweig, a German-Jewish philosopher, theologian, and translator who lived in the late 19th and early 20th century and died in 1929 of Lou Gehrig’s disease, or ALS.  Rosenzweig translated the Hebrew Bible into German with another famous Jewish philosopher, Martin Buber.  Rosenzweig also wrote a very interesting but challenging book called The Star of Redemption, which I am trying to read. The Star of Redemption is a book that helps me to think about the meaning of Judaism, though he also writes about Christianity, which he was close to converting to when he was a young man.  He is into “negative theology,” which means that any attempt to define or describe God fails, because God (according to negative theology) is unsayable and ineffable, totally beyond human concepts and categories, though we can experience God through the fullness or plenitude of the world.  At varying times in my life I have been an atheist, an agnostic, and (when I was young) a somewhat skeptical believer, but this book is making me think about Judaism in a new way.  Andrew

 

I See You by Claire Mackintosh

Cover image for I’m in a “quick read” phase, and I See You  hits the spot.  In this British thriller, Zoe Walker’s boring, suburban life is shaken up when she sees her picture in a classified ad for a service called “findtheone.com”  She digs deeper and discovers that other women who have been in these ads have been victims of violent crimes and wonders if she is next.  Her paranoia develops into full-blown panic as she worries that every stranger on her morning commute is watching her.  The book does a great job of building suspense and letting you get to know Zoe, however I found the ending to be less than plausible and a little unsettling.  Sara

 

Hot Mess by Emily Belden

Cover image for In Hot Mess by Emily Belden, twenty-five year old Allie Simon prides herself on being sensible; she has a good job, friends and a supportive family. Then she becomes consumed by bad boy celeb chef  and recovering drug addict Benji Zane who asks that she invest all her savings in a new restaurant. After he relapses and disappears, Allie is left with having to build a restaurant while recovering from heartbreak and maneuvering the food scene in Chicago. A fun read filled with romance and food starring a strong female character.  Dori

 

The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas

Cover image for This is a timely story about the harsh reality of today’s racial tension.  Starr Carter lives in a poor urban neighborhood riddled with gang violence and racial profiling by police.   When Starr leaves a party after shots are fired, she and her childhood friend, Khalil,  are pulled over for a taillight.  The officer is nervous and misconstrues  Khalil’s words and actions, leaving Starr to witness the fatal unraveling of the police stop.  The book unfolds around this story and how the community and Starr deal with the aftermath.  It’s heartbreaking and painfully relevant.  Beth

 

 

 

 

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What we’re reading now.. February 9, 2018

Posted by SaraC in Book Discussion, Book Review, Fantasy, Fiction, Genre Book Discussion, Graphic Novel, Historical Fiction, New Books, Non-Fiction, Science Fiction, Thrillers, Uncategorized.
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Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

Cover image for August, a worldly anthropologist, has returned to New York to bury her father, but after running into an old friend at the subway station, she is flooded with childhood memories. At a young age, August’s father has moved her & her younger brother from Tennessee to Brooklyn.  Once settled into Brooklyn,  August finds her best girlfriends in Angela, Gigi and Slyvia.  Angela and Gigi are from fractured families, and Sylvia has over bearing parents with high expectations. The four girls together navigate growing up in Brooklyn in the 1970’s.  The girls find comfort, happiness and security in their friendship within turbulent times nationally and in their own neighborhood.  The effects of the Vietnam war, white flight, drug abuse, poverty, absent mothers and predatory men are intertwined with their adolescent years. Tragedy ultimately pulls at their friendship.  A beautiful and poetic coming of age story about girlhood, friendship, dreams and loss.  Mary

His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman

Cover image for I’ve been listening to this trilogy on audiobook and really loving it.  The books are The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass.  Right now I’m near the end of The Subtle Knife.  Although the novels are often considered young adult literature, they can really appeal to young and old alike.  There’s a great blend in the books of realistic and fantastic elements, and the characters are compellingly and convincingly drawn.  The books are so absorbing!  Listening to them, and being entranced by them, reminds me of my experience reading books as a kid – the way you can really get pulled into the story and experience in a really intense way the magic of reading.  Andrew

Hellraiser Omnibus. Volume One by Clive Barker

Cover image for So one thing that may be coming very clear is I am a big fan of horror, specifically supernatural horror. This month I have decided to review a graphic novel I finished recently, Clive Barker’s Hellraiser Omnibus. Volume One. This volume contains  issues Hellraiser #1 to #20 and Hellraiser Annual #1 which seem to pick up years after the second film. (One note is that these comics were originally published between 1989-1993 so the comics contained don’t reference the films past those dates.) Pinhead is of course in this collection but the stories told here wildly expand the Hellraiser universe with new characters, cenobites, and new views of hell/horror. The best thing about this volume is it combines many out of print collections of comics into one handy volume. If you are a fan of horror and the Hellraiser world this is a don’t miss. Greg

Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days  by Chris Guillebeau

Cover image for Chris Guillebeau provides a handbook for developing an effective alternative source of income in his book by giving  practical applications for finding extra income while pursuing a passion.  I found the example scenarios inspiring, and it has helped me to start searching for my side hustle opportunity hidden in my daily activities.  Beth

 

In the Miso Soup by Ryū Murakami (Ralph McCarthy, Translator)

Cover image for Kenji, an unlicensed guide for foreign tourists, makes his living providing tours for those looking to experience the seedier side of Tokyo nightlife.  So when his current client Frank’s behavior seems strange and troublesome, it isn’t because Kenji is naïve that he begins to wonder what Frank’s real intentions are.  An unnerving psychological thriller. Trent

 

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Cover image for The positive buzz and awards earned by this book are amazing. However, it is the dramatic historical fiction story, which reminds me a bit of the multigenerational miniseries Roots, and the “what if” aspect of the Underground Railroad in this telling being a real subterranean train that made me add it to my reading list. When Colson Whitehead appeared at a marketing conference in Cleveland last year giving a talk about storytelling, I picked up a copy of this book. I have high expectations for it and so far it is not disappointing. The humanity and lack of humanity in the slave experience comes across powerfully through Whitehead’s language. Byron

Carnegie’s Maid by Marie Benedict

Cover image for A recent immigrant from Ireland, Clara Kelley, assumes the identity of a fellow passenger who died during the voyage. She secures a position as lady’s maid to Margaret Carnegie, Andrew Carnegie’s mother. Clara’s goal is to send money back to her struggling family in Ireland. Andrew is attracted to Clara, and they secretly spend time together. Andrew shares some of his business expertise with Clara and welcomes her suggestions until Clara disappears when Mrs. Carnegie learns of her deceptions. For lovers of historical fiction. Emma

Big Girl: How I Gave Up Dieting and Got a Life by Kelsey Miller

Cover image for This book is an extension of a column Kelsey has been putting out every Monday since November 2013 called “The Anti Diet Project.” In the column—and, to a greater extent, in the book—Kelsey commits to unlearning disordered eating and distorted body image. With the help of an Intuitive Eating coach, she figures out how to eat based on her body’s instincts and how to exercise rationally and sustainably. All throughout this process, she examines how her relationship with food and her body was impacted by family, friends, and significant others. I am listening to the audiobook, and Kelsey is hilarious, sharp-as-a-whip, and wholly relatable. I highly recommend this book for any person who has been made to feel shame for their body shape or food choices. It is a liberating and empowering read (or listen). Lyndsey

Force of Nature by Jane Harper

Cover image for This novel by author of The Dry takes us once again to a remote area of Australia as Federal Agent Aaron Falk investigates the disappearance of an important whistleblower in one of his cases.  Five colleagues from a family-owned business are forced to take a “team-building” nature excursion as part of  a corporate retreat, but when one doesn’t return, Agent Falk suspects that some of her co-workers know more than they are telling. This book gives a look into the complex relationships between co-workers, lovers, friends and family.  Sara

The Red Clocks by Leni Zuma

Cover image for The Red Clocks is The Handmaid’s Tale for a new generation. Four women in a small Oregon town struggle with new laws that grant personhood to embryos and make IVF and abortions illegal. Ro is a single woman in her forties desperately trying to get pregnant. Susan is an unhappy housewife and mother. Mattie, one of Ro’s best students, is facing an unwanted pregnancy. Their lives intersect when Gin, a reclusive homeopath with connections to all three, is arrested. The Red Clocks is an audacious and unapologetic cautionary tale. Megan

 

 

 

 

Megan’s Favorites of 2017 December 15, 2017

Posted by Megan in Book List, Book Review, Fantasy, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Non-Fiction, Science Fiction, Top Ten, Young Adult.
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Ah, the annual struggle of a reader…picking the favorites.

Favorite Teen Reads:

  1. Scythe by Neal Shusterman-In a world where disease and old age have been conquered, the only way to die is to be killed by professional reapers. Two teens are in a contest to become a scythe, despite the fact that neither wants the job.scythe
  2. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas-When Starr Davis becomes the sole witness to the police shooting of her childhood friend, her life changes. The incident makes headlines and everyone from her poor neighborhood and the upscale prep school she attends has an opinion on the matter. hate
  3. Strange the Dreamer by Liani Taylor-Lazlo Strange has long dreamed of the lost city of Weep. Actually, this gorgeous, epic fantasy is too complicated to describe in a sentence or two. I can’t do it.strange
  4. Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin-In an alternate history the Axis powers won WWII and Hitler is alive. Yael, a survivor of human experimentation at the hands of Nazi doctors has one goal: win the annual motorcycle race, secure a meeting with Hitler, and kill him.wolf
  5. Goodbye Days by Jeff Zenter-Carter Briggs loses his three best friends after a text message caused a fatal car accident. Carter struggles with his guilt and grief with the help of Blake’s grandmother and her idea of a “goodbye day.”goodbye

Favorite Adult Reads: Apparently I read a lot of science fiction and fantasy in 2017! Any why not? It’s pure escapism.

  1. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss-The first book in the Kingkiller Chronicles tells the story of Kvothe, a magician, thief, and assassin. This book is currently in development by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Showtime!name of the wind
  2. The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden-A mesmerizing fairy tale set in the cold Russian north. bear
  3. A Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers-This is a light-hearted space opera in the vein of Firefly. long way
  4. Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey-The first book in the Expanse series and the source material for the Syfy show of the same title, this is a face-paced thriller of a space opera. I do love a space opera!leviathan
  5. Bonfire by Krysten Ritter-Abby returns to her small hometown to investigate a corporation that seems to have connections to an old scandal. Erin Brockovich meets Mean Girls.bonfire

Favorite Nonfiction Reads: 

  1. Ranger Games by Ben Blum-The bizarre true story of a group of young army rangers who rob a bank. ranger
  2. Hunger: a Memoir of (my) Body by Roxane Gay- This deeply personal series of essays explores body image and self esteem and the author’s relationship with food and weight. index
  3. On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder-The author, a historian on fascism, offers a guide to understanding and resisting totalitarianism. index (1)
  4. Tears We Cannot Stop: a Sermon to White America by Michael Eric Dyson-This provocative call for change details how white America can work towards real and lasting racial progress. A painful and necessary read. tears
  5. Killers of the Flower Moon: the Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann. The majority of my nonfiction reading this year was true crime (totally obsessed and if you are too I recommend the podcast My Favorite Murder) or political books. Killers of the Flower Moon is a fascinating addition to the true crime genre. (It’s also the topic of our Men’s Book Discussion in January)killers

~Megan

Greg’s Top 10 for 2017 December 14, 2017

Posted by gregoryhatch in Book Awards, Book Discussion, Book List, Book Review, Graphic Novel, Horror, New Books, Non-Fiction, Top Ten, Top Ten of 2017, Uncategorized.
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First off is a book I previously reviewed, Books of Blood: Volumes One to Three. As the title describes this is a three books of short stories in one not so compact volume. This had to make my list for the sheer variety it offered fans of horror. Much like Barker’s films there is a balance of psychological and visceral horror. Recommended for the horror fan who needs an introduction to Barker’s writing.
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Cover image for               Cover image for
I know I am cheating a bit with these picks but these two volumes are distinct enough in their tone and their personal achievement to deserve their own spot on this list. A retelling/reworking of the Hercules myth, David Rubin’s graphic novel The Hero breaks new ground in the telling of this millennial old story. An odd combination of ancient and contemporary motifs (there are ancient Greek news casts) Hero keeps the reader on their toes. Book One focuses on the labors and the development of Hercules as hero. Book Two takes a darker tone and starts asking what happens when the campaign is won and yet life, and its tragedies, continue on. A humanizing take on a hero who’s story is told again and again.
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Cover image for
Possibly a very bold claim, but for me, this collection was the work that got me interested in poetry again. I am a working visual artist who has had a desire to investigate poetry but just didn’t seem to be my medium or speak my own creative language. Smith’s work shares many of the research veins that I am interested in and gave me a gateway to the work and the art form of poetry. A Finalist for the National Book Award, these poems are both challenging and enjoyable.
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What can I say, I am sucker for short story collections that explore magical realism. Russell gives us everything from lemon sucking vampires to a silk factory who raw material comes from silkworm/human hybrids. More so than any of the other short story collections on this list Vampires offers the readers stories are truly a mixed bag of setting and tone. I haven’t had a chance to read Russell’s novel Swamplandia! but from how much I enjoyed this work its on my reading list.
Cover image for
If you are familiar with Sedaris’ work you know that you are in for more of the same awkward, funny, cringe-worthy, and relatable stories. Told in his signature style, Sedaris focuses on the minor (and so minor) faux pas, social foibles, and daily disasters that everyone else will forget about but will mar you for life. Like all his work, I recommend reading before large family gatherings, for perspective.
Cover image for Norse mythology
If I had to give Gaiman’s work a subtitle it would have to be “Translated for Clarity and Entertainment.” Master storyteller, Gaiman makes traditional Norse and Northern European mythology digestible for a wider audience. If you ever attempted to read traditional translations of Norse sagas you know that they can be a bit dense and at times confusing. This is a great introduction to the Norse religion and for fans of Neil Gaiman’s wider body of work.
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Cover image for The drunken botanist
Maybe too dry (pun intended) for some, I found The Drunken Botanist an informative and intriguing romp into the history of alcohol and the cultures that made them. I enjoyed this book as an audio book while on a long drive to a conference and think it may be its best in that scenario. Filled with moments of “huh didn’t know that” and the science to back it up, Stewart’s work is great material for parties or possible future games of trivia.
Cover image for Wuvable oaf
A subversive and unconventional take on the idea of a romantic comedy. We follow Oaf Jadwiga (former professional wrestler, owner of a cat sanctuary and maker of stuffed animals) as he tried to catch the eye of black metal front-man Eiffel. Now what would be romantic comedy without a few mishaps? Oaf has to deal rival bands, exes (his and Eiffel’s), and cats with emotional problems. With moments of tenderness, gross out humor, and an in your face attitude this book was always surprising.
Cover image for Black Hammer :
If you enjoyed the Alan Moore’s Watchmen’s take on the world of cape crusaders there is a good chance you will enjoy Black Hammer : Secret Origins. Lemire’s take on a super hero team takes a decidedly dark psychological tone. Abraham Slam, Golden Gail, Colonel Weird, Madame Dragonfly, and Barbalien are the a superhero team who have been trapped in a reality that they cannot escape. Rather than Superman’s Phantom Zone, their prison takes the form of a small rural town. This first volume gives us a look into the hero’s previous lives, the baggage they hold, and how they cope in a world where they have little to do but reflect.

Top 7 of 2017 December 13, 2017

Posted by brubakerb in eBooks, Graphic Novel, Movies, Non-Fiction, Top Ten.
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Let me introduce myself since I’m the newest sub at the Reference Desk. You might also see me around the library shelving for the Circulation Department. I’m Byron. I’ve written movie reviews online for Flixster (now Rotten Tomatoes) and published a collection of 365 of those reviews in my book 100+ Years of Movies. Through some entrepreneurial struggles and not having as much leisure time to read I’ve unfortunately fallen short of my reading goal this year. It seemed silly to me to recommend my top 10 when I only read 22 books all year. Therefore, listed in the order I read them, I present my Top 7!

Awake in the Dark: The Best of Roger Ebert by Roger Ebert • I regularly read about the art of cinema. As the cover says this contains some of the best of Ebert’s writing throughout forty years of his career. If you are only familiar with his reviews, you can sample his essays and unique interviews here too.

AwakeintheDark

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates • Journalist Coates has such important things to say about race relations in America. It is not to be dismissed, but will likely require careful repeat reading of passages to fully grasp everything. Glancing at my co-workers’ posts earlier this week I’ve noticed that at least two others have also recommended this work.

BetweentheWorldandMe

Ms. Marvel, Vol. 5: Super Famous by G. Willow Wilson • Marvel has had certain writers reimagining classic heroes to introduce more diversity. Volume 5 in the series about Muslim American teen Kamala Khan is a return to the excitement of the beginning of the series considering I thought Volumes 3 and 4 went a little off track.

MsMarvelVol5

March: Books One, Two, and Three by John Lewis • During 2017 I read all three parts of this graphic novel autobiographical series by Congressman John Lewis. Book One is slightly weaker in structure with so much exposition compared to Book Two and Book Three, however taken together they are all very strong. This period of history comes alive in graphic format.

MarchBookOneMarchBookTwoMarchBookThree

American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America by Colin Woodard • I’ve been intrigued by this title for quite awhile. I had to wait several months to check out the ebook on OverDrive. I’ve been struggling to understand recent National election results and have felt the country is more divided than united. America is more complicated than two political parties, red states, and blue states. This book dives into North America’s history and uncovers eleven cultural nations that have been vying for power since the beginning.

AmericanNations

Trent’s Top 10 of 2017 December 11, 2017

Posted by trentross in Book Discussion, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Non-Fiction, Uncategorized.
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Top Ten of 2017

2017 was another excellent year in publishing.  Unfortunately, I missed large swathes of this year’s best; Celeste Ng’s Little Fire’s Everywhere, Roxanne Gay’s Hunger, and Katherine Arden’s The Bear and Nightingale are all glaring omissions from my list as I was too busy catching up on previous year’s best.  However, here are the ten best that I read in 2017.  Ordered by earliest read.

 

leviathanLeviathan Wakes by James S.A. Correy

As an idealist XO finds himself and his crew at the center of political tensions between Earth, Mars, and the Belt threatening to devolve into war, his path crosses with a jaded detective in search for a missing woman.  Leviathan Wakes kicks of the epic space opera series The Expanse – seven of an anticipated nine novels have been published – that gets better with each book.

 

between the world and meBetween the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Coates writes in the form of a letter to his son about the construct of race in America.  Powerfully written, this will inevitably trigger an emotional reaction to the reader.

 

 

 

norse mythNorse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Gaiman provides with this slim volume a simple yet elegant retelling of a selection of Norse myths that form a vague narrative arc.

 

 

 

index cardThe Index Card: Why Personal Finance Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated by Helaine Olen & Harold Pollack

Personal finance is very often a confusing and stressful topic.  Olen and Pollack attempt to circumvent complexity and anxiety by outlining 10 simple rules that can fit on a single index card.

 

 

Kingdom ConsKingdom Cons by Yuri Herrera

Herrera is like no one else I have read.  Cons is a parable crossed with noir, where extravagance is juxtaposed to humble.  Separate worlds are made permeable by corruption, ambition, and desire.

 

 

 

BitchPlanet_05-1Bitch Planet, Vol 2 by Kelly Sue DeConnick

DeConnick credits the creation of B Planet partly as a reaction to fan criticism of a perceived feminist agenda she imparted during her tenure writing for Marvel Comic’s Captain Marvel.  In this over-the-top graphic novel any woman deemed “noncompliant” is shipped to an off-world women’s prison referred to as B Planet.  Suggested for mature audiences.

 

 

Elements of EloquenceThe Elements of Eloquence: Secrets of the Perfect Turn of Phrase by Mark Forsyth

This accessible dive into rhetorical devices is easily the most fun I had with a book this year.  Why are some phrases memorable and others forgettable? Rhetoric.  How does that make for a truly enjoyable read? No clue.

 

 

 

Dear FahrenheitDear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks: A Librarian’s Love Letters and Breakup Notes to the Books in Her Life by Annie Spence

Snarky librarian Spence shares letters she wrote to books that she had “relationships” with.  Dear Fahrenheit is the literary equivalent of having a conversation with a librarian over a few drinks – very entertaining and will undoubtedly add books to your to-read list.

 

 

MonstressMonstress Vol 2 by author Marjorie Liu and artist Sana Takeda

Takeda’s gorgeous illustrations bring to life a steampunk inspired world where a young woman seeks answers about her mother and while staving off the dangerous and otherworldly power within her.  Begin with Volume 1.

 

 

 

in the woodsIn the Woods by Tana French

A masterful psychological thriller masquerading as an Irish police procedural this is the best of both worlds.  You might recognize Tana French as her eighth novel in her Dublin Murder Squad series, The Trespasser graced multiple best of 2016 lists. Start anywhere in the series, but find time to return to In the Woods.

 

Honorable Mention: The Undoing Project: A Friendship that Changed our Minds by Michael Lewis; Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders; Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel; Kristan Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset; several books in Lawrence Block’s Matthew Scudder series.
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Mary’s Top Ten of 2017 December 11, 2017

Posted by Mary in Book Discussion, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Historical Fiction, Non-Fiction.
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Megan’s Top Ten Graphic Novels of 2016 December 12, 2016

Posted by Megan in Graphic Novel, Uncategorized.
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  1. Lady Killer by Joelle Jones. By day she’s the perfect housewife and mother, but at night Josie is a ruthless killer for hire.

lady-killer

     2. Giant Days by John Allison.  On their own at university for the first time, Esther, Susan and Daisy become fast friends.

 

   3. Rat Queens vol. 3: Demons by Curtis J. Wiebe. The Rat Queens are a gang of hard-drinking, death-dealing, killers for hire.

rat-queens

 

4. Lumberjanes vol. 3: A Terrible Plan and Lumberjanes vol. 4 : Out of Time by Noelle Stevenson. The gang of campers have more adventures at Miss Qiunzilla Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s camp for hard-core lady-types!

 

lumberjanes lumberjanes4

5. Descender, vol. 2: Machine Moon by Jeff Lemire. In a universe where androids have been outlawed, a young robot and his companion struggle to survive.

descender

6. Hot Dog Taste Test by Lisa Hanawalt. As awesomely weird as My Dirty Dumb Eyes.

hot-dog

7. Saga, volume 6 by Brian K. Vaughan. The story of star-crossed lovers and their daughter continues in this bizarre sci-fi/fantasy blended saga.

saga

8. Heart and Brain: Gut Instincts by The Awkward Yeti. These comic, starring analytical Brain and optimistic Heart perfectly illustrate the constant battle between heart and head.

heart-and-brain

9. Prez, vol.1: Corndog-in-Chief by Mark Russell. This a frighteningly timely political satire.

prez

10. Mooncop by Tom Gauld. A simple, lovely, and melancholy story about human colonization of the moon.

mooncop

 

Happy Reading!

~Megan

 

Pretty as a -Graphic Novel- Picture May 4, 2015

Posted by stacey in Book Discussion, Genre Book Discussion, Graphic Novel.
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Graphic novels are one of the best categories ever -especially if you’re limited on the amount of time you have to read!! There was plenty of variety in topics and plenty of variety in the amount of words people chose to read, from almost none (me!) to lots and lots (???), but the overall degree of satisfaction with individual choices was pretty darn high. So if you want a suggestion of a story told primarily through pictures, this list is for you!

Chris: Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant? A Memoir by Roz Chast takes us on a journey some of us know all too well—being there for our aging parents in the final years of their lives. I laughed and cried reading it and realizing how similar the human experience is whether one’s parents live in the Bronx or Garfield Heights. Who knew their maddening idiosyncrasies would be so similar in nature and so cherished after their passing? A winner of many awards including 2014 National Book Award Finalist, it’s a great read.

Carol: Race to Incarcerate: A Graphic Retelling by Sabrina Jones and Marc Mauer is an adaptation of a 1999 work by Marc Mauer. This nonfiction graphic novel looks at how the United States came to have the highest incarceration rate in the world with a population of over 2 million prisoners. With various stories of incarcerated individuals serving as examples, this statistic-filled book shows the failure of our prison system. Mauer suggests that by investing in education, drug treatment, job creation, and a fairer system of sentencing, the need for prisons would lessen.

Lauren: The Sculptor by Scott McCloud is a lengthy graphic novel (nearly 500 pages) but it gives its author plenty of time to draw out (ha! pun intended?) the story of a struggling artist, David Smith, taunted by the absence of what, he believes, should by now be a wildly successful career in sculpture. The story takes a fantastic turn when David makes a deal with Death: he will receive the power to sculpt anything around him into a masterwork just using his hands. The trade-off?—he has just 200 days more to live. Initially the agreement seems acceptable to David, but everything changes when he falls in love.

Lauren (again! -She loved them both!): Princess Decomposia and Count Spatula by Andi Watson is a delightful graphic novel geared towards young adults. The story takes us into the underworld and is populated by monsters and ghouls of every sort. Poor Princess Decomposia is left to handle all the official palace duties while he hypochondriac father, the King, remains in bed with a new ache, pain, or general complaint daily. Things start to look up for Princess Decomposia when newly hired palace cook, Count Spatula, enters her life. Count Spatula opens Decomposia up to new ideas about food, friendship, and true love. A charming read!

Beth: How to Be Happy by Eleanor Davis is a beautifully crafted graphic novel representing the extremes that humans take in desperate attempts to find happiness. The cover images and many of the included graphics are so beautiful that I feel they deserve to be framed the my wall, rather than shoved between other books on the shelf. The stories seemed to be deep if you gave them some thought, though none of them really grabbed me. It’s worth a look just for the art.

Julie: I “read” Love: The Tiger by Frederic Brremaud, illustrated by Federico Bertolucci, and I’m air quoting because the book’s only words are brief writing at the beginning and end of the story. It shows us a day in the life of a tiger searching for food and the illustrations are, for the most part, incredibly beautiful and as lush as the jungle they depict. It’s a world in which, according to the book, is experienced “an elemental love. A love that mankind can never experience.” I know I didn’t experience it, but it’s worth checking out simply for the illustrations.

Emma: March: Book One is the first in a projected graphic novel trilogy by John Lewis, U.S. Representative for Georgia’s 5th congressional district. He is the sole surviving member of the “Big Six” of the Civil Rights movement and was one of the original Freedom Riders. The graphic novel has Congressmen Lewis sharing Civil Rights history with a couple of young visitors to his office on the day of President Obama’s first inauguration. He begins with his early years in segregated rural Alabama through the birth of the Nashville Student Movement in the early 60’s. An important period of history told in a unique format.

Steve: White Death, by Robbie Morrison and Charlie Adlard, focuses on Italian WWI soldier Pietro Aquasanta and his time in the war. The story is bleakly told and drawn, and centers around the use of “White Death,” which was the purposeful setting off of avalanches using gun and cannon fire to destroy the enemy. Unfortunately the story itself is hard to follow, in part because the characters seem to look all the same, and partly because it is just plain disjointed.

Dori : In Persepolis by MarJane Satrapi, Satrapi illustrates the story of her childhood in Iran after the fall of the Shah in 1979. Her family, hailing from the educated elite, had been protesting the Shah and his violent and undemocratic methods of dealing with adversaries. After the country is turned into an Islamic state, her family is hopeful, but soon the Iraq War begins and it becomes clear that the new regime is deeply dangerous . Satrapi, 10 at the time, can no longer listen to Western music, dress how she likes or go to school with boys, and her extended family faces peril, including her beloved Uncle Anoosh. No wallflower, she often gets in trouble for speaking her mind and her parents, concerned for her safety, find a way to send her to Vienna to boarding school, telling her that they will soon follow. Beautifully illustrated in simple planes of black and white, Satrapi is able to capture individuals and their feelings with simplicity. Her text, too, is sparse, but captures the complexities of life in Iran under the Islamic regime.

Megan: Ms. Marvel Vol. 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson introduces a new superhero for the modern age. Kamala Khan is just an average teen from New Jersey when she suddenly finds herself possessing the superpowers that allow her to morph into her hero, Carol Danvers. Now she finds herself stuck between her two conflicting worlds. On the one hand, she longs for freedom from her strict, traditional Muslim parents on the other, she discovers she is not quite comfortable being Carol Danvers. As she explores the extent of her powers she learns how to be comfortable in her own skin. This new addition to the Marvel family is getting plenty of buzz due to the fact that Kamala is their first Muslim hero to headline her own comic, but Kamala is so much more than her religion and her skin tone. She is a charming and normal teenager just trying to figure things out. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for the new Ms. Marvel!

Stacey: I am Pusheen the Cat, by Claire Belton relies heavily on super cute images to reveal the charm of large fluffy cats -surprise! Pusheen and her little sister Stormy have plenty of adventures, apart and together. If you’re looking for something not too taxing on the brain but plenty of aww! -this one’s for you!

Now we’re back to lots of words on the page with Women’s Fiction! If you want to read along with us, please find a book that focuses on a female protagonist and her relationships with those around her. The main theme of the story should be of a woman overcoming a crisis and emerging triumphant. You go girl! (I know, I know but -I had to!)

Enjoy!
Stacey

Top Reads of 2014 December 8, 2014

Posted by Dori in Biographies, Book List, Graphic Novel, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Science Fiction, Top Ten.
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Here are my top ten of 2014 – I can’t wait for the new reading year to begin!

The Goldfinch by Donna Tart: I loved this coming-of-age epic novel about Theodore, who, after his mother dies in a bombing at an art museum in New York, moves around and in and out of people’s lives, grieving for his mother and trying to figure out what to do with his life. A stolen 17th Century Dutch painting, New York City, Las Vegas and some very loving and very shady characters play roles. I can highly recommend the audiobook as I began with it but soon had to get the book so that I could immerse myself as often as possible.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr: I gravitate towards novels set during the World Wars – hoping they’ll enlighten me or maybe it’s just that it’s so hard to imagine living during such times. Anyway, Doerr’s work is a beautifully written look at the lives of two young people who are growing up during World War II, one in France, the other Germany, and how their lives converge. Magical.

Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant by Roz Chast. Chast’s graphic novel about dealing with her parents as they are growing older and becoming unable to care for themselves is funny, matter-of-fact and heartbreaking.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. Back and forth between the present, where a flu virus has destroyed most of civilization and the past, just before the end of the world, six peoples’ lives intertwine, from an actress with a travelling band of entertainers, to a mysterious and menacing prophet. Unusual and moving, this is a beautiful novel.

The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff Vandermeer: These three books, Annihilation, Authority, and Acceptance, were all released in 2014. They are weird, frustrating, and menacing works about the mysterious Area X, an isolated coastal area where something otherworldly has happened.  Let’s just say that no one is reliable, there are lies and more lies and weird creatures and very few names and…I’m still trying to figure it all out!

Euphoria by Lily King: Oh to sit around in a tent in the South Pacific chatting with the likes of Margaret Mead! This novel is based on Mead’s research and the love triangle between herself and her second and third husbands. Youth, brilliance, and sensuality permeate this lovely novel.

The Remedy for Love: a Novel by Bill Roorbach: This novel is about a highly unlikely relationship that develops under extreme circumstances. A small town lawyer ends up stuck in a cabin in the woods with a woman who has lost everything during a freak snowstorm. It was funny, insightful and a little bit edge-of-your-seat thrilling.

To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris: A misanthropic, highly successful dentist has a phobia for technology and a fascination with religion – and then someone steals his web identity and tells him he’s a descendent of an ancient religious sect.  Ferris’ descriptive writing is spot on and often hilarious. You may not love Dr. O’Rourke – he can be super caustic, but you’ll want to travel with him on this journey. Oh and now I floss a lot more – it’ll add seven years to your life!

The Secret Place by Tana French: French is a great writer of mystery suspense – she really captures a place and gives depth to her characters. This one is set in a wealthy all-girls school after the murder of a male student at a nearby school and captures the secrets and lies that permeate the air.

All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld: Australian Wyld has created a fascinating character in Jake Whyte, a woman living on her own on raising sheep, which someone or something is trying to kill off. The structure of the book is unique – as we move forward in Jake’s quest to uncover the culprit, we also move backward as we discover why Jake has isolated herself.  This book is ominous and claustrophobic – but Jake is a tough cookie and you root for her in a big way.

Little Failure by Gary Shteyngart: Shteyngart is known for fiction, but his life so far makes for a mesmerizing memoir. Early memories of the Soviet Union, his immigration to the U.S., his relationship with his parents and his fragile health are fuel for this both laugh-out loud funny and touchingly poignant book.

~ Dori