Posts in Books
The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar

Back in the summer, I started a subscription to Book of the Month when they had a $5 promo deal.  I was so excited to find new books and authors and have a diverse selection of beautiful books lining my shelves.  But here’s the thing, I found that and more.

This is not an ad, it’s a confession.

I selected my books every month and often added in previous titles at the amazing discounted price.  I have beautiful books lining my shelves and even got a copy of Calypso that I can’t wait to bring with when I see David Sedaris at my local theater next month.   

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What I didn’t think about, which was very obvious, was how much time I really had to devote to reading another selection of titles.  I am so very lucky to have the opportunity to read books before they are published and select the titles for the Library. I literally sit in a building that has over 30,000 titles that I can pick up at literally every moment of my workday.  I buy books for myself every chance I get.

My physical TBR was made unattainable by starting BOTM.  It’s amazing. I love it and I love the books.

Back in September, one of my selections was The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar.  Set in 1785 London, we get to follow the lives of businessman Jonah Hancock, courtesan Angelica Neal and a mermaid, and how the three of them are thrust onto an unlikely path together.  After unexpectedly receiving a mermaid from one of his ship’s captains, Jonah is intent on making back the money lost by the captain’s foolish investment. Working with his niece Suki, they display the mermaid to great fanfare and it quickly becomes a sensation.  After catching the eye of local madam Mrs. Chappell, the mermaid is commissioned for display at her brothel. It’s at the opening night of the mermaid’s exhibit that Jonah meets the beautiful and desirable Angelica Neal. Newly single and in need of someone to care for her-or pay her bills, whatever-Angelica quickly latches on to Jonah.  But the evening doesn’t go as planned for anyone involved. What will follow is a story of lust, greed, and unexpected friendship.

This story was wonderful!  The writing is very witty and I really enjoyed getting glimpses of the everyday life of Angelica and the other courtesans.And poor Jonah.  That guy just couldn’t seem to catch a break. First his captain sells Jonah’s ship to buy a mermaid, then he has to make back his lost investments, deal with an unreasonable sister, and the whole time he just doesn’t want to make anyone mad.  Slight spoiler on Anglica-you were warned: Her character grows so much over the course of the book. She begins as this spoiled and arrogant person who needs to be surrounded by beautiful things in order to be happy. But she’s never really happy.  She is so out of tune with the world that she truly has no idea what trouble she is in or how to save herself that it’s almost sad. When she is finally offered a safe and happy home, she does an extraordinary amount of growing up and realizes that she can find happiness in simpler things.       

Really big spoiler-

Really big-

I still have no clue what the mermaid was at the end.  No clue. I reread and reread and someone please tell me what that was! Because-buckets?  Huh? And I’m very serious-what do you think it was?

But I loved this book and the characters and I really got drawn into the story and couldn’t put it down.

If you’re thinking of starting Book of the Month, I can honestly say I’ve enjoyed the experience.  If you’re looking for less commitment, you can get your copy, and help support the site, here:



 
The Faithful Spy by John Hendrix

This is another one of those books that you can buy for the amazing cover and not feel guilty because the story is just as incredible as the artwork.  Full of vibrant colors, captivating illustrations, and handwritten text, The Faithful Spy tells the story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a young pastor who set out to assassinate Adolf Hitler.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a devout young pastor who felt compelled by God to put an end to World War II before it began.  The Faithful Spy gives us the complete picture starting with Bonhoeffer early years, his studies at Seminary school, and how he was able to make contacts with and help the resistance against the Nazis.  Hendrix is able to seamlessly weave together Bonhoeffer’s life story alongside the rise of both the Nazi party and the resistance providing a real depth to the story. Within the Author’s Note, Hendrix writes how he wanted to tell the story of how Germany was so easily swayed by Hitler and his atrocious ideas and he does an amazing job of doing so.  

This would be a great pick for your younger history buff-I wouldn’t go much below 12 years old because you know, Nazis are kind of a deep topic.  The artwork is absolutely incredible and really adds to the story. I really appreciate the “Research and Authenticity” section at the end. Hendrix provides some great information about why he included what information he did and also why he excluded the information that he did.  

Fun Fact-this is a Junior Library Guild pick, which I found out after I had already ordered a copy of this for the Library and then received a second copy in my JLG shipment.  But some goofs are just meant to be-this gave me the chance to purchase one of them for myself and I loved reading it. I even caught The Kid reading it one night even though it’s not a full on graphic novel.  It provided a great opportunity to have a conversation about power and hate.

You can get your copy, and help support the site, here:




 
The Ghost Portal by Cheryl J. Carvajal

When Joshua Forester’s mother dies of cancer, his entire life is upended.  His abusive father wants nothing to do with him. An uncle he never knew existed suddenly appears and whisks him away to another across the country.  Joshua is left with more questions than answers when he finds himself enrolled at a private boarding school where his uncle is dean.

And this private school is no place for rest and healing after his mother’s death.  He has mandatory church services to attend, difficult classes, teenage cliques to avoid, and nearly nothing to his name after leaving all of his possessions behind.  If having a loaded academic schedule wasn’t enough stress, Joshua is forced to try out for the football team even though he has never played before. But none of this is truly as frightening as Joshua’s gifts. He was able to see the cancer in his mother long before the doctors were able to diagnose her.  He can read minds and has prophetic dreams. All of this is made even more dangerous when a dark force pulls Joshua towards a portal to the ghost world and a deadly demon that guards the entrance.

Poor Joshua.  This kid just can’t catch a break throughout the entire book.  His father is abusive, his mother dies of a horrible illness and then he’s kidnapped by an uncle he’s never met.  I spent much of the book hoping that the uncle would come to some horrible end-he was such an irritating character and frustrating to read.  He knows that Joshua has special powers and refuses to give him any answers to his questions. Multiple times Ian, the uncle, uses his own power/ability to make Joshua feel drugged and sleepy so he’ll stop trying to figure out why he can read minds.  Ian also provides zero support for his grieving nephew. He enrolls him at the boarding school where he is the Dean but doesn’t let him bring anything with him. With almost no wardrobe, school supplies, or money, Joshua is just supposed to be grateful that he wasn’t left with his father.  The kids at his new boarding school are stuck up and his uncle overloads his class schedule leaving Joshua little time to himself or to complete his schoolwork.

But Joshua is able to make a few friends.  He’s able to forge a bond with the less than stellar players on the football team and together they help Joshua cope with his increasingly scary nightmares and weird ability to instantly read Latin.  Joshua also finds a friend in Jane Evans, a girl from school who can also read minds like Joshua. She also has a very handy ability to disappear when she doesn’t want to be seen. I really liked how the friendships were written-the kids are understanding of each other’s differences but also expect one another to hold up their end of the relationship.

I wish there had been more information on the portal and how Ian and his school played a part in it.  There are still a lot of questions that went unanswered. I’m not a fan of how the “local tribe” was introduced and used at the end-it felt too convenient.

Overall, it was a good read.  The story flowed well and the characters were well developed.  Joshua was very convincing as the hurt and angsty teenager. I hope it’s the beginning of a series and we can find out more about the shadowy groups behind the portal and how or why Joshua and his family have the gifts they do.  

You can get your copy, and help support the site, here:  



 
Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

This book has been all over the place.  For months now, I have seen this gorgeous cover on book lists, ads, and recommendation sites.  There is a reason-it’s just as good as everyone is saying.

Once Upon a River is a story of family, hope, and very dark secrets.  It begins in a small inn set on the banks of the Thames. Full of villagers and drinkers, the inn is the center of storytelling and local history for the area.  And gossip-so much gossip. When a large man enters the inn holding a large puppet the entire inn is left in a state of silent shock. Before the large man collapses to the ground, the puppet is placed in the arms of the son of the inn’s owners.  But it’s not a puppet-it’s a young girl who is very clearly dead and no one knows who she is.

But she’s not dead, and the girl-who-was-dead-but-is-no-longer is about to bring together a seemingly unconnected group of people.  There is the wealthy couple who live down the river and lost their only child two years before. A woman living in a lodging house and takes part in a scandalous profession.  The successful farmer with his large family and loyal animals. The unwed woman who cleans for the parson. The town midwife and healer who declares the little girl alive and knows instantly that she belongs with her.

There is little that can be said about this book without spoiling all of the amazing twists and turns.  It took a bit for me to get in to the story but once it clicked, I couldn’t put the book down. Who is this little girl?  Why did everyone think she was a puppet or a doll? Was she dead? Why does everyone want to be around her? So many questions in this book and there is an answer for all of them.  

The river is a huge part of the story and is written about so beautifully that it feels alive and like it’s a character itself.  There is history and magic but maybe the magic is just the effects of all the pain and struggle that the characters go through or maybe it’s real and it was there all along.  It’s an absolutely beautiful book and I absolutely loved it.

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield is available December 4, 2018 from Simon & Schuster.

Thank you to Netgalley and the Publisher for the opportunity to read and review this book-all opinions are my own.  

You can get your copy, and help support the site, here:






Girl Squads by Sam Maggs

If you think that female friendships are full of competition, catfights, and spite-then you can thank all the crappy writing that has filled our books and television screens for far too long.  Sam Maggs takes a deep dive into 20 awesome female friendships that helped change the world and make it a better place.

Covering five categories-athletes, political and activist, warrior, scientist and artist squads, Maggs tells the stories of some pretty amazing ladies who stuck together to create change throughout history.  Some are pretty well known ladies like Anne Bonny and Mary Read, as well as our three amazing ladies on the U.S. Supreme Court. Others were a joy to discover like the Haenyeo free divers who are continuing the 2,500 year-old practice of diving for the various sea creatures found on the sea floor or the Trobairitz who were active during the 12th century.  

Sam Maggs covers the globe and all of time to bring us some of the most fascinating female friendships that have helped shaped history.  I really enjoyed her points on how no matter how far back you go in history, women have worked together to bring about important change. It’s been through women working together, not alone, that brought about education and equality for women.  

Maggs writing is both informative and entertaining.  Her other titles look equally awesome and I’m looking forward to checking out more of her work.  I really enjoyed this book and it would pair really well with Brazen as a great holiday gift. Hint, hint.  

Big thanks to Netgalley and Quirk Books for the free digital copy-all opinions are my own.

You can get your copy, and help support the site, here:


 



Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World by Pénélope Bagieu

Reader Friends-have you heard that boys won’t read books with girls on the cover? It’s baloney. You just have to hand them a book, tell them it’s amazing, and watch the magic happen. I borrowed this from the Library for me to read and once I brought it home, I had to repeatedly track it down because The Kid couldn’t put it down. Now, I’ve seen it shelved in various places at different Libraries. Some put it in Adult, some YA, and some just have dedicated graphic novel sections. According to the publisher First Second, it’s aimed at ages 14-18, well, The Kid is 10 and we don’t follow the rules.

Brazen covers the lives of 29 amazing and history-making women. There are some pretty well known women like Nellie Bly and Mae Jemison, as well as some that were new to me like Frances Glessner Lee and Sonita Alizadeh. I really enjoyed the section on Giorgina Reid, the woman who helped save a lighthouse in Montauk by terracing the side of the cliff it was built on to help prevent erosion. Like many of the stories, if men had taken her seriously, the world would be a much better place. And have less erosion.

The artwork is absolutely delightful. The story panels use a limited number of colors and they change from story to story. At the end of each section there is a two page drawing of the featured subject and I had to remind myself several times that I couldn’t rip them out and frame them-I don’t think the Librarian would be very happy with me. They are so bright and vibrant and just beautiful.

I really loved this book-it covers so many different women from different time points in history and places around the world. There are artists, scientists, activists, musicians, and athletes-a little something for everyone.

You can get your copy, and help support the site, here:


 



Watersnakes by Tony Sandoval

The artwork in this book is absolutely stunning. Every drawing felt just slightly off-like there was just a little something not quite right- which added even more creepiness to the story.

Mila is a loner whose summer is about to take a dramatic turn when she meets Agnes, a beautiful girl who claims her teeth are ghosts who travel the world and have adventures. Thinking her slightly crazy, Mila agrees to meet up with her next day to hear the full story of Agnes’ teeth. What she finds instead is a wild adventure starting with a kiss gone weird, a sea king, and an amazing female army ready to battle. But Agnes still has one major secret-she’s a ghost. And not just any ghost, she holds the spirit of a sea king and her teeth are the king’s soldiers. Mila has to help the warriors save the sea king and return him to his people.

This book is wild-absolutely bonkers wild and I really enjoyed it. The artwork is incredible and the story is great. Mila is such a teenager-all emotions and confused feelings-but she steps in when it counts. The female warriors are completely badass and the fight scenes are amazing with all the swords and flying blood.

Thank you to Netgalley and the Publisher for the opportunity to read and review this book.

Watersnakes by Tony Sandoval is available November 20, 2018 from Lion Forge.

You can get your copy, and help support the site, here:



 



City of Broken Magic by Mirah Bolender

If you liked the Jackaby series, you’re going to love this one!

City of Broken Magic by Mirah Bolender is an action packed magical ride of monsters and mobsters.

Laura Kramer is a Sweeper apprentice working hard to keep her city safe from the magical infestations that are killing residents. Her boss and Head Sweeper, Clae Sinclair, grew up in a Sweeper family and has been battling manifestations his entire life. Together they make up the entire Sweeper force of the city of Amicae and work alongside the police department in an uneasy alliance.

When Laura and Clae are hired by the wealthy wife of a notorious mob family, they find more than malevolent amulets. They find a mysterious young man enslaved by the Sullivans who appears to have magical abilities. Clae, ever clever, rescues the young man under the guise of payment in exchange for ridding the Sullivan house of evil amulets. Now the young man, Okane, is free from the torture and enslavement of the Sullivans and free to begin training as a Sweeper apprentice.

Now a team of three, the Sweepers have a ritual to prepare for, a city to protect, and evil manifestations getting their way.

This book was so good! It’s fast paced, full of action, and the characters are fantastic. Clae is prickly and unsociable but as the story goes on, you completely understand why. There is more than one skeleton in his closet and a long line of deceased Sweeper apprentices. With mysterious parts of his shop completely off limits and a quest for lasagna, he has the mysterious boss persona down. Laura is young, smart, and wants only to prove her worth. Growing up unwanted by her parents, she is raised by her single aunt and lives in one of the poorer parts of town. Longing to learn more about the world outside her walled city, she snatches up scraps of movie posters found along streets and alley walls. And Okane. Poor Okane. Born with magical abilities and tortured his whole life by the Sullivans, he lives his life in fear of everything.

I really enjoyed the city of Amicae. It’s one of several cities mentioned in the book but is the setting for the bulk of the book. The city is contained by high walls that the residents believe keep them safe by preventing evil magical infestations. Unfortunately for the residents, that is completely false. There is a complex system of magic and amulets that can be both helpful and harmful depending on their creation. It takes place 500 years ago but I don’t think it ever tells where that 500 years ago was-and it doesn’t matter. You get dropped into this amazing world and everything fits perfectly.

I loved this one-it’s amazing and I’m looking forward to more books in the series.

You can get your copy, and help support the site, here:  




 
Sunday Library Love

Like many people this time of year, it’s been a crazy couple of weeks around here. On the heels of a chaotic Halloween week we attended the first of several winter holiday parties and need to plan future ones that we’re hosting. Meetings, school events, and just everyday housework always seem to be more work when it’s cold outside. The dining room construction is at the true messy stage and it’s starting to impact my last minute jelly making for Christmas gifts.

But it’s not all work. We had business to attend to in the same town as our favorite comic book store so of course a visit was in order. We finally got to meet the Bear at A Boy and His Tiger in Macomb. It’s an overall great shop-great service, great selection, and a great doggo. The Kid picked out a few new books and comics and I managed to keep myself to only one new book.

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All of the home construction, holiday cooking, and constant clean up has had one amazing perk-I’ve listened to 3 audiobooks just this last week. All have been Library loans and paired with our overwhelming DVD selection-ALL my holds came in at once- from the Library, it’s been a Library Love type of week. That’s right-we rarely purchase or rent movies, we borrow nearly everything from the Library. Thanks to our wonderful interlibrary loan network, we have access to nearly every title and usually have a very short wait.

Listened to:

Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

This was great on audio-the narrator was really good and there is no way I would have pronounced the main character’s names correctly. From the Publisher: Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant living in Harlem, has come to the United States to provide a better life for himself; his wife, Neni; and their six-year-old son. In the fall of 2007, Jende can hardly believe his luck when he lands a job as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers. Clark demands punctuality, discretion, and loyalty - and Jende is eager to please. Clark's wife, Cindy, even offers Neni temporary work at the Edwardses' summer home in the Hamptons. With these opportunities, Jende and Neni can at last gain a foothold in America and imagine a brighter future.

However, the world of great power and privilege conceals troubling secrets, and soon Jende and Neni notice cracks in their employers' façades. When the financial world is rocked by the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the Jongas are desperate to keep Jende's job - even as their marriage threatens to fall apart. As all four lives are dramatically upended, Jende and Neni are forced to make an impossible choice.


Who Thought This was a Good Idea?  By Alyssa Mastromonaco

Read by the author, this was another great listen that I’ve been wanting to read for a long time.  Funny, honest, and not at all gossipy, this book takes us behind the scenes of political campaigns, the inner workings of the White House, and how incredibly stressful it is to work in Washington.  Mastromonaco gives advice throughout the book on how to prepare for job interviews, the do’s and don’ts of negotiations, and how to not be your own worst enemy. It’s a lot like listening to a really great friend over a glass of wine.  A definite listen for those who would like to reminisce about the time we had intelligent, capable, and caring people in the White House.

Some Enchanted Eclair by Bailey Cates

If you want mouthwatering descriptions of food, some light witchcraft, a murder mystery, and southern accents-this is your series. From the Publisher: When Hollywood invades Savannah's historic district to film a Revolutionary War movie, magical baker Katie Lightfoot and her witches' coven, the Spellbook Club, take a break from casting spells for casting calls. One of the witches snags a part as an extra, while Katie's firefighter boyfriend, Declan, acts as on-set security. Katie and her Aunt Lucy decide to stay out of the action, but after the movie's "fixer" fires the caterer, the Honeybee Bakery comes to the rescue, working their magic to keep the hungry crew happy. But when someone fixes the fixer - permanently - and a spooky psychic predicts Katie will find the killer, the charming baker and her fellow conjurers step in to sift through the suspects - before someone else winds up on the cutting room floor.



Watched:

Paddington 2

Super cute and funny.




Father Figures-The Boys picked this one.



Yeah, The Boys picked this one too.




Read:

Charlie Hernández & The League of Shadows by Ryan Calejo

This was a really great middle great adventure filled with Latino and Hispanic mythology.  I purchased it for the Library and snuck it out before the kids saw it.































Paperback Crush by Gabrielle Moss

Luckily for us, author Gabrielle Moss hit a personal and professional rut in 2016 and in an act of wanting to remove herself from reality for a bit, she purchased a crate of Sweet Valley High paperbacks on eBay. Her birthday gift to herself put her on a path to give us the perfect present-Paperback Crush is an absolutely delightful walk down nostalgia lane.

Moss takes a deep dive into the impact the early days of YA fiction had on our expectations of friends, family, and school. She lets us in on the secrets and life lessons those early novels taught us as we followed the antics of the Babysitter Club. How we learned that young love is both amazing and frustrating and if you’re not careful, you may end up kissing just like those in a Judy Blume novel. Moss does an incredible job of covering everything related to these wonderfully awkward tweenie series-the novel covers, character diversity, life lessons, and how the story lines evolved over the decades. What began as sweet little stories in the post-war boom of the 40’s, by the 80’s, readers were learning how incredibly scary the real world is.

Paperback Crush also has author interviews from YA authors Candice Ransom, Rhys Bowen, Caroline Cooney, and Christopher Pike. I really enjoyed the behind the scenes look at how many of those iconic covers were created and how the models were chosen.

I found Paperback Crush to be a fun and honest take on the novels that so many of us grew up with. It’s an absolutely delightful read and I couldn’t have enjoyed it more.

You can get your copy, and help support the site, here:  



 
Blackfish City by Sam J. Miller

Feel free to jump on this book for it’s cover alone-it’s just as stunning as the story itself. I got sucked in to this book a few days ago and I still can’t stop thinking about it.

After the world finally turns against us, leaving the earth covered in water, a floating city in the Arctic Circle is constructed. Geothermal heating and greener, more sustainable sources of energy are now the new normal. But even with all the amazing technology that allows humans to survive in the ocean, humanity still has it pretty rough. Living spaces are hard to come by and most are too expensive for everyday people with Landlords holding rents high to stay rich. Added to the stress of poverty is a mysterious illness called the breaks, that is spreading throughout the city and causing those inflicted to get lost in the memories of others.

Everything changes the day a woman is seen approaching the city on the back of an orca whale. With a polar bear.

Yep. Riding an orca whale with a polar bear.

Her arrival draws together four individuals who seemingly have nothing in common but once they meet, they begin a defiant battle against the political corruption of the city.

Reading Friends-this book is completely bonkers and I loved every single minute of it. There is political intrigue, mob syndicates, shady landlords, and genetic manipulation. Once again I’ve fallen into a book about the disastrous effects of unchecked climate change and it’s not a pretty picture of our future. I want nothing to do with living on a floating city in the Arctic Circle. No. Thank. You.

But noodle stands? I want those, and their frequent mentions made me very hungry.

This book offers a very interesting look in to what actually makes people a family and how lifetimes of deceit, regret, and abandonment can still allow for hope. How people can be so different from one another and still have so much in common.

I loved this book. It keeps popping into my thoughts with it’s incredible and terrifying world building.

Loved it.


You can get your copy, and help support the site, here:


Dry by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman

What happens when the taps run dry? When you turn the faucet handle and nothing comes out? How long can the human survive without water?

Be warned-this book will cause intense feelings of hoarding, stockpiling, and doomsday prepping.

Alyssa remembers where she was on the day of the Tap-Out. At home with her family, they initially thought the odd noises from the faucet were just a plumbing issue. Instead, it was their worst nightmare. Water to their home was shut off, rerouted to critical locations such as hospitals. An emergency run to Costco is chaotic with people scrambling and fighting for the last of the bottled water and other beverages. When Alyssa’s parents learn about a water desalination unit operating on a local beach, they set off in hopes of bringing back water. But as the hours drag on, Alyssa can’t reach her parents and they don’t show up. Now on their own, it’s up to Alyssa to keep Garrett safe.

Back in Alyssa’s neighborhood, her neighbors aren’t used to rationing anything, let alone critical resources. All but her next door neighbor Kelton, whose family takes survival prepping to the next level. Living off the grid in a fortified house, Kelton and his family have known a day like this would come. When the neighbors begin to notice how little the Tap-Out is affecting Kelton’s family, they stage a revolt. An unspeakable tragedy follows with Kelton, Alyssa, and her little brother Garrett left running for their lives.

What starts as an inconvenience turns into a fight for their very survival.

This book made me want to stock up on pallets of water, hand sanitizer, antibiotics, MREs, and anything else that might be critical. In the novel, it takes only days for people to completely turn on each other instead of working together to solve the problem. With all the talk of climate change currently in the news, this book felt even more scary.

Dry is listed as Young Adult but don’t let that stop you-it’s fast paced and gritty and I loved every word of it.

You can get your copy, and help support the site, here:


Stuck in Manistique by Dennis Cuesta

Stuck in Manistique is a funny and heartwarming look at how seemingly simple decisions can lead to big consequences.
When Mark, an only child without any family, receives word that his only aunt has passed away heads to northern Michigan to handle the details of her estate. Mark's childhood was filled with stories of his adventurous and world traveling aunt who worked with Doctors Without Borders and lived in war zones. But what his life was not filled with was actual interactions and memories of his aunt. Without any contact for decades, Mark has no idea what he's getting himself in to.
Emily, a recent medical school graduate is getting ready to start her residency at a prestigious Chicago hospital and is planning on a romantic getaway with her boyfriend when a deer derails her plans. Stuck without a car and seriously considering her future, Emily ends up at the Manistique Victorian, a bed and breakfast formerly owned by Mark's Aunt Vivian. While Mark thinks he's only helping out a stranded woman for one night, he instead sets off a series of events that leads to friendships, break-ups, humor and sadness.
There was something about the beginning of this book that kept nagging at me and it took a while to figure out what it was-the dialogue is completely real and believable. There are no flowery speeches or quick come-backs. The characters have very real conversations with misunderstandings and jokes that fall completely flat.
Stuck in Manistique is full of quirkly characters. Mark meets Bear Foot, a local handyman who was both a friend to Aunt Vivian and her go-to guy to get things done. After learning of her death, he builds a fire to help guide her spirit and borrows a boat to take Mark out on the lake to spread Vivian's ashes. But of course, the fire doesn't go as planned and the boat doesn't start. There's George, an elderly man who has a fight with is wife and leaves his casino tour for a night of peace. But of course, George's wife died years ago and his struggles with dementia leave Mark and Emily constantly worrying about his safety. There's the couple who are trying to be the first to circle the lake in an electric car-but are they a couple?
Stuck in Manistique is a series of "what-else-can-go-wrong" that is equal parts humorous and heartbreaking. I really enjoyed this book and I'd definitely recommend it for when you're in the need of some great, light reading.
Thank you to Netgalley and the Publisher for the opportunity to read and review this book. All opinions are my own.

Stuck in Manistique by Dennis Cuesta is available October 29, 2018 from Celestial Eyes Press.

You can get your copy, and help support the site, here:



 
House of Gold by Natasha Solomon

House of Gold is a rich and sweeping tale of the Goldbaum family during the early 20th century.   Wealthy, beautiful, and full of rich-people problems, the Goldbaums are one of the wealthiest families in the world with the ability to make or break entire countries.  With all of that power comes impossibly high expectations of all members of the family. Greta, daughter to the head of the Austrian house is set to marry her cousin Albert.  Not only has she never met Albert, she has no say in the matter. Greta’s big brother Otto is brought up to lead his family and take his father’s place at the bank and has just as much say in his future as his little sister.  

As the years pass, Greta learns to tolerate her marriage, fall in love with her husband, become a mother, and learns the strength to survive a war.  With her family’s money being both a blessing and a burden, Greta lives her life as close to her own terms as possible.

This is one of those vast, multi-layered stories that is great for when you want to really immerse yourself for days on end.  The e-book version of House of Gold that I read clocked in at nearly 450 pages and takes you all the way from the wedding planning of Greta and Albert’s wedding to the birth of their second child.  It’s full of history, politics, religion, and the way that money really does rule the world. The detail given to the dresses, dinner menus, furnishings, and gardens is incredible. And the rich people problems-it’s a wonderful escape. Greta frets for months on how to plan a garden.  Who to hire, what to plant, the significance of every little stone-all while the Goldbaum kitchens are handing out food to the poor and starving. There is a side story of Karl, a young man who lives in the sewers of the city and stays as close to the Goldbaum mansion as possible because the food they give away is the best in the country.  

House of Gold also gives us insight into high-society arranged marriages.  I find the separate bedrooms, lack of communication, and the way they act more like a business partnership than a life partnership absolutely fascinating.  

I really enjoyed this one.  If you want to get lost for days in someone else’s life, I highly recommend this one.  

You can get your copy, and help support the site, here:  

Thank you to Netgalley and the Publisher for the opportunity to read and review this book. All opinions are my own.

 



In the Vanisher's Palace by Aliette de Bodard

When an Elder’s daughter becomes ill, magic is the only cure. But drawing on the magic of the Dragons comes with a steep price. Yên, daughter of the village healer, is the one chosen to become the payment of the village’s magical debts. Assuming she will be given to the Dragons for their amusement, she is shocked to discover that she will be playing a different role-as tutor to the feisty and mischievous young dragon children of the dragoness Vu Côn. Now living in the spirit world in a magical palace that reshapes itself to suit the needs of the inhabitants, Yên worries that her death is always one misstep away. But it’s not her life that is at stake, it’s her heart. Vu Côn is more than a magical dragon, she is also a beautiful and powerful woman.

Dark and beautifully written, In The Vanisher’s Palace is a dark retelling of the classic Beauty and the Beast story. From the mysterious and powerful Dragon to the palace that is constantly changing shape, it has many of the elements of the original tale with a notable twist.

I loved the Dragon characters-they’re magical, powerful, and the children are still very much children, learning their boundaries and the consequences of their magic. There’s a magical medical ward where the children Liên and Thông definitely don’t see eye-to-eye with their mother.

The worlds are very complex and they blend history, contemporary elements and magic. The hospital beds in the spirit world are cryogenic chambers but the dragons still use magic to heal them. It can be a bit disorienting but the story moves on quickly enough for all to make sense and seem completely natural. I mean, why wouldn’t the walls just begin to shift and add windows? Of course we use magical spells to cure viruses.

Yên and Vu Côn begin as slave as master but quickly realize that there is much more going on. Even Vu Côn’s children can see that she is instantly smitten with their new teacher. They’re relationship is built on more than attraction-there is trust and also genuine concern for each other’s well being.

In the Vanisher’s Palace is dark but beautifully written. I really enjoyed dropping in to this world and I’d love to see what this author comes up with next.

Thank you to the author for the advanced copy of this book, all opinions are my own.

You can get your copy, and help support the site, here;



Series Starters-Paranormal Edition

I’m a big paranormal/sci-fi/fantasy/urban fantasy fan. I have great respect for an author who can weave together magic and reality and create a new and intricate world. Getting lost in Post-Shift Atlanta or the dark streets of Caldwell is my favorite way to escape from reality. Vampires, faeries, shifters, witches and warlocks-I love them all. Full disclosure-I do own all of these books. Full disclosure- I hate when a publisher changes a cover style half way through a series. It makes my head spin. Just keep a cover consistent. That’s not too much to ask.

If you have any series that you love, please drop them in the comments!

 

This was my first introduction to the Steampunk genre and the entire series is great. It’s full of vampires, political intrigue, mechanical devices, and steam of all kinds!

From the Publisher: Most people avoid the dreaded Whitechapel district. For Honoria Todd, it's the last safe haven as she hides from the Blue Blood aristocracy that rules London through power and fear. Blade rules the rookeries-no one dares cross him. It's been said he faced down the Echelon's army single–handedly, that ever since being infected by the blood–craving he's been quicker, stronger, and almost immortal. When Honoria shows up at his door, his tenuous control comes close to snapping. She's so...innocent. He doesn't see her backbone of steel-or that she could be the very salvation he's been seeking.

 

These books are proudly displayed behind glass in my living room. If we ever have a fire, someone better save all my boys! You can start your obsession for only $2.99 on Kindle.

From the Publisher: The only purebred vampire left on the planet and the leader of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, Wrath has a score to settle with the slayers who killed his parents centuries ago. But when his most trusted fighter is killed—orphaning a half-breed daughter unaware of her heritage or her fate—Wrath must put down his dagger and usher the beautiful female into another world.

Racked by a restlessness in her body that wasn’t there before, Beth Randall is helpless against the dangerously sexy man who comes to her at night with shadows in his eyes. His tales of the Brotherhood and blood frighten her. Yet his touch ignites a dawning new hunger—one that threatens to consume them both...

 

This series just wrapped up with Magic Triumphs, book #10 and is absolutely amazing. Plus, book 1 is only $2.99 on Kindle!

From the Publisher: When the magic is up, rogue mages cast their spells and monsters appear, while guns refuse to fire and cars fail to start. But then technology returns, and the magic recedes as unpredictably as it arose, leaving all kinds of paranormal problems in its wake.
 Kate Daniels is a down-on-her-luck mercenary who makes her living cleaning up these magical problems. But when Kate’s guardian is murdered, her quest for justice draws her into a power struggle between two strong factions within Atlanta’s magic circles.
 The Masters of the Dead, necromancers who can control vampires, and the Pack, a paramilitary clan of shapechangers, blame each other for a series of bizarre killings—and the death of Kate’s guardian may be part of the same mystery. Pressured by both sides to find the killer, Kate realizes she’s way out of her league—but she wouldn’t have it any other way...

 

This series is hot!!! It’s also a great story about finding your inner badass.

From the Publisher: When her sister is murdered, leaving a single clue to her death–a cryptic message on Mac’s cell phone—Mac journeys to Ireland in search of answers. The quest to find her sister’s killer draws her into a shadowy realm where nothing is as it seems, where good and evil wear the same treacherously seductive mask. She is soon faced with an even greater challenge: staying alive long enough to learn how to handle a power she had no idea she possessed—a gift that allows her to see beyond the world of man, into the dangerous realm of the Fae. . . .
As Mac delves deeper into the mystery of her sister’s death, her every move is shadowed by the dark, mysterious Jericho, a man with no past and only mockery for a future. As she begins to close in on the truth, the ruthless Vlane—an alpha Fae who makes sex an addiction for human women–closes in on her. And as the boundary between worlds begins to crumble, Mac’s true mission becomes clear: find the elusive Sinsar Dubh before someone else claims the all-powerful Dark Book—because whoever gets to it first holds nothing less than complete control of the very fabric of both worlds in their hands. . 

 

This is only $1.99 on Kindle!

I just discovered this series this year and I really enjoyed it. If you loved Harry Potter, give this one a shot.

From the Publisher: Newly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, and in need of a job, Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary--including the ability to see supernatural beings. Abigail has a gift for noticing ordinary but important details, which makes her perfect for the position of Jackaby’s assistant. On her first day, Abigail finds herself in the midst of a thrilling case: A serial killer is on the loose. The police are convinced it’s an ordinary villain, but Jackaby is certain the foul deeds are the work of the kind of creature whose very existence the local authorities--with the exception of a handsome young detective named Charlie Cane--seem adamant to deny.

 
Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman

I have an apology to make to the YA community. I used to think that YA was overrated, dumbed-down, fluffy teen angst. It’s not. Some of the best books I have read lately have fallen under the YA marketing category-I do still believe that’s all it is-and I want to throw them into the hands of every adult patron who comes into the Library. The latest title to completely captivate me is Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman. I read this at the kitchen table, in one setting, with my husband literally knocking down the walls around me. Home renovation is fun for one of us.

Rumi Seto’s entire life changes in an instant. Her best friend and sister Lea dies next to her in a tragic car accident. Overcome with grief and sadness, her mother sends her away to her aunt’s house in Hawaii for the rest of the summer. Feeling lonely and abandoned, Rumi struggles with the basic of tasks-getting out of bed, showering, eating. Her Aunt has never had children and her already strained relationship with her niece is made even more volatile as the two try to navigate life around each other.

Her new next door neighbor, a handsome and charming surfer named Kai, tries to become her friend and show her the sights of Hawaii but Rumi isn’t ready. Without her sister and the music they wrote together, Rumi has lost both her heart and moral compass. Her other neighbor, an eighty year old grump named George Watanabe is only slightly more successful in forming a friendship with Rumi. Laying on his living room floor listening to old records provides Rumi with the closest thing to peace she can find.

It is through her new friendships and her music that slowly allow Rumi to find her way back to herself.

Reader friends-grab your tissues and read this book. It’s incredibly emotional and raw. Rumi’s character already struggles with friendships and understanding how to react to social situations. Her relationship with her sister is what gave her life direction. When her mom ships her off to Hawaii, the betrayal and abandonment is more than she can handle and I spent most of this story crying my eyes out because she feels so lost.

Akemi Dawn Bowman writes her characters with such love-each character felt so real. I’d love for their to be a sequel to this story so I know everyone is living their best life. I really liked the way the author wrote about Rumi’s attempts to figure herself out. Rumi was very aware that she thought differently than others but even with that awareness, the way she view relationships really troubled her. Trying to decipher her sexuality was incredibly frustrating to her and the conversations about sexuality being fluid were really well written. This story really covers a broad range of difficult topics-death, grief, relationships, sexuality, mental health, abandonment. While that seems to be a lot of heaviness, it’s also full of hope.

I really enjoyed this one and I’m looking forward to see what the author puts out next.

You can get your copy, and help support the site, here:


Diet for a Changing Climate by Christy Mihaly and Sue Heavenrich

Just this week, the United Nations released a report on climate change that was filled with dire warnings. I won’t go in to the details because I am the furthest thing from an expert you will find. I did this article from the New Yorker to be the most accessible to my non-expert brain. Now that everyone is sufficiently scared, let’s take a more lighthearted approach to our problem.

Let’s eat bugs.

Diet for a Changing Climate is an interesting and informative read on how we can adapt our diet to positively impact our environment. This book is full of facts on "unusual" food sources such as insects, kudzu and foraging for wild greens. Who knew some of the most nutritious additions to our dinner salad are right in our yard? Unfortunately, most of us use toxic chemicals to remove those pesky dandelions and chickweed from our yards. Kudzu, which has taken over the southern states of the U.S. is also a tasty sandwich wrap, tea, and can be used to make jelly.

Did you know stinkbugs taste like apples? No clue. Crickets in your protein bars? I guess…just don’t tell me? I don’t think I’m ready to jump on the bug protein wagon, but if the idea sounds good to you, this book is full of recipes. From how to identify your insect, harvesting, and cooking, this book covers it all.

The authors have included some really great and colorful graphics in this book. There’s plenty of recipes, tips and tricks to incorporating climate friendly food sources into our daily lives.

Equal parts gross and fascinating, this book will show how to change the way we look at invasive species. This would be perfect for the science nut or a budding climatologist in your life. Diet for a Changing Climate: Food for Thought by Christy Mihaly and Sue Heavenrich is available October 1, 2018.

You can get your copy, and help support the site, here:

Full disclosure: I received an advanced copy of this book from the Netgalley and the Publisher, all opinions are my own.