Friday, December 6, 2019

Plum Crazy: Tales of a Tiger Striped Cat (vol. 1), by Hoshino Natsumi

Now this was just too cute to resist!
Admittedly, I'm not a big fan of traditional Manga. I find the whole right-to-left format extremely confusing. More so than should be for a book that's mostly pictures. And that diminishes my enjoyment of the story at hand. I'm missing out, I know. But that's just how it is for me.

But I could not resist Plum Crazy by Hoshino Natsumi

Admittedly what drew me in was the cover. More specifically, the tabby-and white cat on the cover. This kitty looked so much like my kitty (Gizmo) I had to see what it was all about. And I was very pleasantly surprised. Because the story was cute too. 

The story focuses on Plum, a cat owned by a single mother and her son. Mom has a dance studio and Plum spends her days having adventures and tolerating all the petting and and attention from the dance students (Because who can resist a cat that cute? Yeah...me either). One day Plum brings home a starving kitten, later named Snowball, and the story picks up from there. As Plum and Snowball adjust to each-other, and as Plum learns to tolerate all the kitten antics, the two become buddies. 
For the curious: My cat Gizmo.
He looks like Plum, don't you think?

All in all, the story is very cute. Much like Chi's Sweet Home. And it seems to target a younger audience. However, I would recommend it to cat lovers of any age. Because who doesn't want to read a cute cat story. 

--AJB




For Fun Friday: Flowers in the Attic, by V.C. Andrews

I read on another bookish blog that VC Andrews' cult classic Flowers in the Attic is celebrating 40 years of being a Guilty Pleasure Read. So I thought I'd blog about it today. Because why not?

A Cult Classic turns 40
Is it worth reading? That's up to you.
I first read Flowers when I was 12. It was one of those rare books on my parents' "forbidden" list, so of course I secretly borrowed it from a friend (thanks, Julie!) who has secretly borrowed it from her mom. And I just as secretly read it with just as much relish as a tween of today would devour Harry Potter or Hunger Games. So lots of secrets going on. I'm sure my parents were 100% aware of what was going on, but figured my breaking a "don't read this book yet" rule was far better than any other shenanigans I could be getting into. It WAS the 80s, after all.

Anyway...

Looking back, I'm not sure what the appeal was. It's really quite a terrible book, filled with cliche characters, overdone tropes, and absolutely NO plot or literary merit to speak of. Pretty much every Andrews book ever written. The fact that the book was taboo, certainly, added some appeal. But it was also my first encounter with an "adult" book. And that was exciting too. Naturally much of the  more 'mature' content sailed over my head at the time (And of course I couldn't ask my folks about it because I wasn't even supposed to have the book. And Google didn't exist back in 1989). All I knew was, at the time, I loved the book with all my tweenage heart.

For those who have not yet read Flowers, I'll sum up without giving too many spoilers: 

Here we have four siblings: Chris, Cathy, Carrie, and Cory. These much-too-beautiful blonde children were the product of a forbidden marriage. When their father dies, Mom moves the fam back in with her super-rich parents. The catch is her elderly father (who is supposedly dying) must not know about the children since it was he who forbid the marriage in the first place. So the kiddos are stashed in the attic, which was actually pretty posh as far as attics go (and was likely larger than my first apartment). They are cared for by their Grandmother, who shows the children far too much animosity and resentment than is called for (if you read the Flowers prequel, you'll sort of understand why). There's drama, there's romance, there's drama, there's secrets, there's drama... And more drama. And MORE drama. And there's a Plot Reveal you'll see coming a mile away. 

Still, Flowers in the Attic is what could be called a Cult Classic. And we do have the series in the Teen Area. If you're curious and want to read something that doesn't require much mental capacity, go ahead and see what it's all about. But then follow it up with something a bit more meaty.

--AJB

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Throwback Thursday: Relish by Lucy Knisley

You may know Lucy Knisley for her online comics about the ups and downs and dramas of family life and raising a toddler (the ones featuring her old cat, Linny, are especially cute). But before she was a mom, Lucy was a culinary aficionado. I assume she still is. 

Lucy's first major graphic novel Relish is a journey into her lifelong relationship with food. The daughter of a chef and gourmet food critic, young Lucy didn't have much of a choice but to become somewhat of a food snob herself (with the exception of a teenage rebellious streak that found her noshing on such things like McDonalds, Pop Tarts, and blue ketchup...much to the horror of her folks). Chapters discuss Lucy's experiences with with City Living, Farm Life, world travels and more (the one where she and a childhood friend explore a small Mexican town is my favorite). Mixed in are some of Lucy's favorite recipes so you, the reader, can enjoy the same foods as talked about in the book. So I guess you can say the book has an interactive element as well.

Relish can be found in our Graphic Novel section. I highly recommend this one! Ask the librarian if you need help locating it.

--AJB

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

The Geeky Chef, by Cassandra Reader

Say you're binge-watching the Harry Potter movies and suddenly find yourself with a craving for Cauldron Cakes (or maybe Butterbeer). This craving is such you can't even enjoy the films until you taste what these treats are all about. But how would one obtain such delicacies? Outside of Diagon Ally or the Hogwarts kitchens, that is. Hmmmm....

While I can't tell you how to go about getting your own House Elf to whip up such yumminess for you on demand (and I wouldn't if I could, because I agree with Hermoine that House Elves should not be treated as slaves), I CAN recommend The Geeky Chef Cookbook, by Cassandra Reader.

Within the pages this fun book, you'll find the author's well-researched takes on recipes from nearly ALL your favorite cannons: From Harry Potter to Hunger Games, from Star Wars to Star Trek, and everything in between. You'll find beverages, main dishes (I've actually tried the "Gagh", pg. 92-93. And, as I'm a fan of spicy noodle dishes, I found it delicious), snacks, and, of course, desserts (YES! They have cauldron cakes), all of which sound positively mouth-watering. I'm looking forward to sampling more recipes from my favorite books and movies. I think you'll have fun with this one too.

But wait! There's more! If you can't find what you want in The Geeky Chef, try the sequel, The Geeky Chef Strikes Back, for even MORE delicious recipes.

--AJB

Monday, December 2, 2019

Drama Monday: We Are Okay, by Nina LaCour

Mondays are for Drama (because why not), and what better choice than one of Nina LaCour's gems? Everything I've read by Nina LaCour has been awesome! She is expert in crafting plot and characters and weaving them together for maximum feels. And the perfect choice for December is We Are Okay.

Marin has decided to stay at college for Winter/Holiday Break. After the death of her beloved grandfather summer of Senior Year (and everything that happened afterward), she doesn't really feel like she can go home. She's not sure 'home' is even 'home' anymore. So she will be staying on campus. Alone. Except for a short visit from her best friend Mabel...whom she hasn't even spoken with much since everything went down (and whom she's not even sure is her best friend any longer). When Mabel arrives, Marin knows she will have to face the events that caused her to flee California for New York, never looking back (but trapped in the past just the same). Mabel will demand answers. And when the snow starts to fall and the power goes out, the girls have no choice but to talk.

We Are Okay is a quiet story. That is, there isn't much action or adventure. But the setting (a desolate college campus, a snowstorm) and the emotions (grief, loneliness, healing) are everything. Flashbacks scattered throughout gradually build the foundation of what brought Marin to the place she is and give hints to how she will be able to heal from what she experienced (no spoilers, sorry). This truly is a gorgeous story!

--AJB




Monday, November 25, 2019

Big Book of Little Kittens, by Hannah Shaw

Sometimes you just need to take a break from it all and look at cat pictures. Or cat videos, if that's your thing. Taking a breather to do such a thing has been scientifically proven to be beneficial to productivity. I can't site specific studies (although I'm sure I could Google you a few dozen). Just take my word for it.

This is why, on this Monday night, I picked up Hannah Shaw's (a.k.a. "Kitten Lady") book Big Book of Little Kittens. How could I not? Just look at that little darling featured on the cover! And BONUS! browsing a library book while at work counts as 'work', as 'keeping up to date on the collection', as long as I don't get too distracted by what I'm reading. I have to admit... NOT getting too distracted was extremely difficult in this case. Because Big Book of Little Kittens was just about the cutest thing I've read all year!

Shaw, who rescues and fosters orphaned kittens until they're ready to be adopted into their their "fur-ever families," uses this book to talk about her work with adorable little fluffballs. But the job isn't as magical as one might think. Raising kittens, sometimes ones who are just hours old, is hard work. They must be fed, bathed, helped to the bathroom...none of which they can do on their own when they're as young as many of Shaw's rescues. So lots of hard work, lost sleep, and commitment to the cause. Raising teeny tiny kittens is hard work and not something to be taken lightly. But it's without a doubt one of the most rewarding things out there, if you love kitties.

Of course all this info is enhanced by many, many, MANY photos of some of the cute kittens Shaw has raised. Of COURSE there are kitten pictures. Which is the best part of the book.

So stop by the New Book shelf and pick this one up. I promise it will make you smile even on the most Monday-est of Mondays.

--AJB

Friday, November 22, 2019

September Girls, by Bennett Madison

Fairy tale re-tellings are HUGE right now, thanks, in large part, to Disney. Seems everyone wants a piece of that (mouse-flavored?) pie, meaning everyone is clamoring to get a jump on this trend before it goes the way of Terminal Illnesses and Glittering Immortals. This has the unfortunate side effect of making nearly every reboot published lately sound the same. Like when you eat something really spicy and everything consumed afterward is overshadowed by that spice flavor. It's all uniform.

And then there are books like September Girls.

Bennett Madison's Little Mermaid re-imagining hit the shelves a few years before the fairy tale re-tellings truly became A Thing. So it has that advantage. But it would be unique even if it were published today, at the height of the trend.

Dee-Dee isn't sure what she is. "Dee-Dee" isn't even her real name. She doesn't remember that...or anything else about herself or her life before she crawled from the waves onto that Outer Banks beach. All she knows is she, and all the countless Girls like her, are cursed. The specifics of that curse are foggy, but there are certain rules they must all follow: 

1. They are spit from the ocean upon their 16th birthday. And they have until they turn 21 to break the curse, which is harder than one might imagine. If they fail, they must return to the ocean (see rule 3). If they get lucky and do break the curse, they are free. Most fail.

2. They must adopt a certain appearance (blonde, beautiful...identical) and a certain demeanor (shallow, flirty, unable to speak unless spoken to first).

3. They must stay close the ocean from which they came, but if they enter the water they will drown.

4. They will begin to forget everything they need to know as soon as they set foot on land for the first time. 

Sam escapes to Dee-Dee's beach with his father and older brother, Jeff. Sam's mother recently left the family to go "find herself" and, since then, things at home have been getting steadily worse for the three men. None of the guys begin the story very keen on women and have operating under quite a bit of resentment and false beliefs. This begins to slowly change when Sam and Jeff meet Dee-Dee and Dee-Dee's older "sister", Kristle, and learn about the curse (and the magic) happening at that beach. And, as she gets to know Sam and know herself, things change for Dee-Dee too. 

Unlike many of the re-tellings out there, September Girls is no light-hearted bit of fluff (I've often told people I recommend it to that this is not a "kissing book"). Rather, it dives deep to put a unique spin on Anderson's mermaid story and brings to light what that story has always been to me: A commentary on how society typically (and falsely) views women (pretty, silent, submissive) and a cautionary tale about leaving/being forced to leave home for all the wrong reasons. It's a story about identity, about becoming who you're supposed to be rather than what you think is expected of you, and fully accepting yourself for who you really are. It is a story I interpreted as being decidedly feminist. September Girls is disturbing and gorgeous and will stick with you long after you've put it aside. You will either absolutely love it or passionately hate it. There will be no middle ground with this one.

As for me... Of course I loved it! It's one of my favorites. And I encourage you to give it a try.

--AJB

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Mooncakes, by Wendy Xu

Ok... so Halloween was a few weeks back, but for me it's always an excellent time for a Witch Story. Especially when it's as adorable as Mooncakes, the newest graphic novel by Wendy Xu.

Teen witch Nova lives with her grandmothers and helps them run Black Cat Books and Cafe, which is not your typical bookstore, which sells everything from ordinary bestsellers to special collection magic books. Like would any girl with special powers, Nova's struggling to balance her magic life with her ordinary life. But of course that's not always the easiest thing to do (if it was, there wouldn't be a story). Especially when her childhood crush, Tam Lang, who just happens to be a werewolf, rolls back into town. Nova couldn't be happier. And, as it turns out, Tam reciprocates her feelings. This has all the setup for a super cute magical romance story.

But there's dark supernatural forces afoot.

A cult of evil witches who would like nothing more to harness Tam's wolf magic for their own purposes. And Tam and Nova (and the grandmothers) are the only ones who can stop them.

Mooncakes is fun to read. Reminded me a lot of Lumberjanes, actually. With a a bit of Scooby-Doo feels too, because the villain would have gotten away with it too if not for those meddling kids and their dog...I mean werewolf. Also, if you pay attention to clues throughout the story, you can guess who the bad guy is before they're 'unmasked'. But still, a cute story.

--AJB

Friday, November 15, 2019

For Fun Friday: How I Paid For College, by Marc Acito

With all the recent books about Serious Topics, Worldly Issues, and Warrior Princesses so hardcore they'd make Katniss Everdeen (of Hunger Games fame) shudder with fear, sometimes you just need a book that's nothing but FUN!

This book is How I Paid for College, by Marc Acito.

Flashback to 1983. Edward Zanni and his BFF Paula are getting ready to celebrate their last summer before college. And they plan to have plenty of mischief and mayhem while doing so. This pretty much means hanging out at Aunt Glo's pool, putting the neighbor's ginormous Green Buddha statue in compromising positions, and sneaking into the local piano bar to sing showtunes. And once summer is done, Edward, a lifelong theater kid, is looking forward to attending the holy grail of performing arts colleges: Julliard. 

That is, until Edward's father pulls the plug on his dreams, refusing to fork over thousands per semester for what, he thinks, is sure to be a useless degree that will have his only son working low-paying, dead-end jobs for the rest of his life. Like, here's a helping of Harsh Reality... Do you want fries with that? Edward's pretty sure his new (evil) stepmother has everything to do with this. After all, Dadd-o didn't have a problem with Edward's school of choice before he tied the noose...I mean, knot.

So Edward decides he will pay his own tuition. But when the old fashioned way (um, a job) isn't working fast enough, Edward and friends hatch the Plan of All Plans. One that includes embezzlement, forgery, blackmail, and the impersonation of priests and nuns. There's plenty of cringe-worthy moments, hilarity, and hijinks along the way. And one of the most satisfying (if convoluted) endings I've ever read.

Fans of Becky Albertalli's Simon vs The Homo-Sapiens Agenda and Play Me Backward by Adam Selzer will love this one!

--AJB

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Throwback Thursday: The Schwa Was Here, by Neal Shusterman

Anthony "Antsy" Bonano's new friend has a  very cool superpower. He can't fly through the air or melt steel with laser vision or have super strength or anything. He doesn't even have a sweet car. And he certainly doesn't bring criminals to justice. But he IS invisible.

Well...not legitimate invisible. Not like Harry Potter donning the cloak of invisibility or anything. But he can so perfectly and naturally blend in with his surroundings that he may as well be. So much that people often forget about him. They forget he's in the room. They forget he even exists! He would be a legend...if only people remembered him.

Wait... who are we talking about again?

Oh yeah... Calvin Schwa. 

Nice kid, The Schwa. Smart, funny, would do anything for a friend...

Wait... WHO?

I see The Schwa Effect is impacting even me, the reader. 

Anyway, Antsy decides to use The Schwa's ability to his advantage. Learn some secrets, make a few bucks, pull a few pranks... And The Schwa Effect works. 

Until it doesn't.

When attempting to break into Old Man Crawly's place on a dare, The Schwa gets busted. And now he, Antsy, and Antsy's whole existence are in jeopardy. because Old man Crawly is a very powerful, very grumpy guy. And he doesn't take kindly to being pranked. 

Neal Shusterman's novel The Schwa Was Here is today's Throwback Thursday feature. It strikes a balance between hilarity and heart and is just a fun read. And if you can't get enough of Antsy antics, you'll love the followup Antsy Does Time. The Schwa isn't in the sequel, however (or maybe he is and you just can't see him).

--AJB

Monday, November 11, 2019

The Creeps: A Deep Dark Fears Collection, by Fran Kraus

So... you know how sometimes you wake up at 3:30 a.m. with a random, weird, and freaky thought in your mind? One of those thoughts you just can't shake and, before you know it, you're up for the next several hours worrying about it?

For example: What if jelly beans aren't really candy at all, but are actually giant spider torsos (but with the legs and heads torn off) that have been dipped in a colorful  candy shell and marketed as sweet treats?

Well... if you're prone to such night time thoughts, author Fran Krause's latest book, The Creeps, is definitely NOT for you! Because it's filled with all sorts of fears that are sure to keep you up at night. Here you'll find everything from urban legends to disturbing lies told by cruel older relatives/siblings to perfectly rational worries (these are the ones that stick with you the most because they could maybe actually happen). All fears are artfully illustrated in graphic detail so as to put that visual in your mind. You know, in case simply reading the text isn't enough on its own.

Bravo to Fran Kraus for penning pretty much the most disturbing piece of work I've read so far this year. I highly recommend it.

Now... sleep well, my lovelies. Sleep well. 



--AJB

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Frankly In Love, by David Yoon

How unusual to stumble upon a romance novel...written by a GUY! I mean, these books are out there, but they're kind of not typical. Even now. Which makes this book stand apart from the rest of its kind.

All I know is author David Yoon must have watched A LOT of 80s and 90s Teen Rom-Com movies. Because the plot of Frankly in Love is pretty much straight from that era/genre!

Here we have Frank Li, whose traditional Korean parents don't want him to date anyone but a Korean girl. A super racist move on their part, yeah, but these folks are really Old-School. Remember that. They come from a different place/era. And tradition is a very, very big thing for them. Frank, however, is in love with Brit. And although this young lady is everything a typical parent would probably want for their son (smart, pretty, going places, etc), she is not Korean. So dating her is forbidden. Enter Joy, another Korean teen whose parents have similar views about dating as do Frank's. So what's the harm in Frank and Joy pretending to date each other as they pursue their non-Korean crushes?

Well, if you're even remotely familiar with teen movies from the later decades of the 20th Century, you know A LOT can go awry with this sort of setup...even with the best-laid plans. Just ask Molly Ringwold (Google her, people). Predictably, readers will encounter numerous cringe-worthy moments and A LOT of drama before these lovebirds get their happy ending. 

Yoon should have left it at that, though.

He tried to make the story much more than it actually was by padding it with 'serious' plot twists that came out of left field (and then went nowhere) and getting downright preachy about Frank's parents' almost too extreme racism. Among other things. further what was, ultimately, your run-of-the-mill Rom Com plot. 

Being that this is the author's first book, I'll cut him some slack. Not everyone can hit their writing stride right out of the gate. We can't all be JK Rowling, after all... However, I don't think I'll be picking up the sequel (because, according to official sources, Frankly In Love is supposed to be the first of a series...or at least a duology). I'm just not that impressed with this one.

--AJB

Serious Moonlight, by Jenn Bennett

Have you had it with Warrior Princesses who (surprise!) still need a guy to make their lives complete? Are you full-on sick of books about Serious Timely Topics with Heavy Political Overtones? Are you looking for a story that's just a cute bit of fluff? 

Yeah, me too.

Even better if the story includes pie. Because everyone likes pie!

I found all this in Jenn Bennett's latest novel, Serious Moonlight. I mean, the plot of this book is the stuff of cheesy, 1990s-era Rom-Coms. Think Sleepless in Seattle. Think Serendipity. But with teen-aged characters. It's freaking adorable, people!

Birdie and Daniel first meet-cute in their favorite local diner and bond over their mutual love of pie and mystery stories. Even better, they both work the graveyard shift at a local hotel that is supposedly home to the reclusive mystery writer, Raymond Drake (although this fact is pretty hush-hush, thus the mystery). And Birdie loves nothing more than a good mystery! Both characters have Issues to overcome: Grief over the death of family members, chronic medical conditions, extreme painful introversion... But they find the support they need in each other (awwww). And now they have a real-life mystery to solve! So there's that too.


Did I mention there's pie?

This story is adorable. Not particularly memorable. And the plot tends to get pretty cliche at times, and the characters sometimes feel rom-com worthy stereotyoical. But adorable nevertheless. 

Also, pie!


--AJB


Friday, November 8, 2019

The Very Short, Entirely True History of Unicorns, by Sarah Laskow

So it's been firmly established that we, in the Teen Department, adore Unicorns (and if you haven't picked up on that you haven't been paying attention at all). So it's only natural that we'd add any and every book on the subject to our collection.

Well...within reason.

Which is why we are not the proud owners of The Very Short, Entirely True History of Unicorns. So how, you ask, can an account about a so-called fictional creature be considered "true." Just ask author Sarah Laskow, who describes how this magnificent, single-horned beast first appeared in popular culture more than 2,000 years ago in ancient Greece. And things took off from there. Seems the masses were so enchanted by the idea of unicorns that they fully embraced the concept (can you blame them? I ask you...). And the world isn't letting go of the idea anytime soon. In fact, it seems unicorns are even MORE popular today than ever before. Because unicorns are everywhere, from books to movies to food (Unicorn latte anyone?). 

So if, like us, you too can't get enough of unicorns, stop by the New Books shelf and pick up The Very Short, Entirely True History of Unicorns. You'll for certain learn a thing or two about everyone's favorite fantasy creature. And you'll be enchanted by the rainbow-colored illustrations (by Sam Beck). It's just too bad Unicorns don't really exist outside of the imagination.

--AJB

Throwback Thursday: Beastly by Alex Flinn

I first heard about Beastly, the book that started Alex Flinn on her twisted fairy tale kick, back in 2007. I was fresh out of earning my MLIS degree and was invited to attend a YA Literature conference along with the then-Teen Department head. I recall I had to enter a random drawing to win this coveted opportunity (I also recall there being a bit of jealousy among the then-teen staff who didn't get to go)...

Anyway...

One of the workshops I attended was a showcase of Hot Off The Press YA Books. The presenter was excellent at book talks and I wanted to read everything I heard about. But especially Beastly. I'd long been a fan of re-spun stories and the idea of a modern retelling of Beauty and the Beast from the Beast's perspective sounded really intriguing. I was especially excited to learn OPL had ordered the book. I put a hold on it and, shortly thereafter, it was in my eager hands.

I was not disappointed.

I read the book in one sitting, completely swept up in the story of Kyle/Adrian and Lindy and how their relationship blossomed from mistrust to friendship and, finally (and inevitably) into love.  Had I been in a different sort of mood when I read it for the first time, the book likely wouldn't have resonated with me in the same way. Maybe I would have found it juvenile, the characters shallow. But it was a case of right book, right time. And I loved it. I still do...more, I think, for nostalgia reasons than for literary merit. But I do think it's a sweet story that I have revisited a few times since the first read-through. And it's far better than any of the other retold tales the author has penned since.

There are a few elements that seriously date the story and would cause today's teens to scratch their heads. Like the concept of a chat room, in which Kyle/Adrian connects with other teens under similar curses. And the mention of MySpace, which was THE social network back when this book was penned (is MySpace still around? I don't know). And I'm sure there are a BUNCH of elements that would cause today's critics to cringe and scream and stir up all sorts of drama (there is no diversity among the cast of characters, save for a very cliche immigrant houskeeper, and the female lead is pretty much a stereotypical damsel in distress).

Still, Beastly is an enjoyable story that I shamelessly admit to loving.

And it still makes me want fill a huge bowl with popcorn and re-watch The Princess Bride for, like, the millionth time.


p.s. The movie adaption is simply awful and you're best avoiding it.

--AJB

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Throwback Thursday! Blood and Choloate by Annette Curtis Klause

I believe that I was thirteen when I first read this book and I carried vivid memories of it with me for years.  It’s one of those books that I have loved to thrust at people and say, “This was so good!  I read it over 20 years ago and I still remember it!”  That’s kind of true and kind of not.  There was a lot that I forgot.
Let’s get this straight right away:  Vivian is not human.  She is a werewolf.  She wasn’t bitten and changed, she was born a werewolf and she was born into a pack.  A lot of people seem to be really bothered by the pack politics but, you know, these are not PEOPLE.
Anyway, it seems pretty obvious to me that Vivian is not human just in how she carries herself.  At the beginning of the book, she says that she sticks mostly to herself.  She doesn’t understand how to make friends because she has never had to, she just hung out with her age mates.  When one of her art pieces is featured in the school magazine, she is surprised to find a poem next to it that perfectly matches.  Werewolves are the subject of both works and she even suspects that there might be another werewolf at her school.  What she find is a boy with long hair and a relaxed, easy way about him that she finds irresistible.  They start to date.
This is taboo in her pack, though.  Humans and werewolves have to remain separate.  They can’t mate and telling a human what you are is against the Law.  The pack is already in a tumultuous time, having been chased out of their last home by a few angry men who burned their inn down with Vivian’s father inside.  Now the pack is without a leader and in shambles.  They decide to have an Ordeal where wolves fight to see who will lead.  In the meantime, Vivian is fighting with her mother who is going after the much younger Gabriel and she is avoiding her age mates who played a part in the loss of their last home.
I loved this book.  I read it faster than I have read a book in a long time.  There’s a lot going on here: friendships, romance, family dynamics, pack politics.  Vivian is learning to be a human but really she is also learning what it means to be a wolf and she has to learn which part of that is the most important to her.  
Excellent read!  Great for people who liked Twilight but with a little more edge.
-RYQ

Friday, September 27, 2019

For the past several years, it seems like movies have fallen into three distinct categories: 

1. Superheros, Superhero Reboots, and Superhero Re-Reboots
2. Live-Action Remakes of Animated Classics
3. (usually poorly-done) Adaptions of Books

It is for this reason I've taken to watching older movies (some old faves, others new to me). Because most of these were at least original. So when a NEW film comes along that falls outside the above categories and that also seems genuinely fun and creative, it really catches my interest. Such was the case with Yesterday, starring Himesh Patel and Lily James. I was very excited to experience this one!

So... What would happen if you were to wake up one day and realize that you and you alone are the only one who remembered a monumental pop culture phenomenon and/or historical event? Would you write it off as The Mandela Effect and get on with your life? Or would you take advantage of the knowledge and use it in your favor? (because, really, who's gonna know?This is the premise of the film.

After a bike accident, Jack, a struggling musician, wakes in the hospital as the only person in the world who remembers the music of the Beatles (there are other small differences, but this was the main one). He begins playing the tunes in public, claiming them as his own. With the help of best friend and manager Ellie, who totally has a crush, Jack quickly skyrockets into fame as the Greatest Musician Who Ever Lived. As Jack struggles with the dark side of fame and the fears that his secret will be somehow revealed, he also comes to terms with his own identity and his place in the world. 

I felt that Yesterday had so much potential to be a unique and amazing film! Everything was there. Unfortunately, it fell short of my (perhaps too lofty) expectations. The foreshadowed conflict/action/main drama never really materialized, and there was zero chemistry between the love interests. Also, we never really learned what exactly led to the event that caused the global amnesia and why Jack alone was spared. This all felt like a huge missed opportunity. And the ending. I wanted a different ending.

The movie wasn't all bad. There were good points too. The stellar soundtrack, for one. The movie is worth it for that alone! And the plot twist where Jack receives some Sage Big-Picture Life Advice from a very surprising source made me supremely happy (no spoilers, though...but I'll let you Imagine the possibilities here). 

Overall, though, the film had a fan fiction vibe to it and the whole thing felt... kind of incomplete. I was disappointed. I just wanted MORE from something that seemed to have so much promise. But at least it wasn't yet another Batman/Spiderman/Whatever-Man Origins movie. So there's that.

--AJB


Monday, September 23, 2019

Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? by Caitlin Doughty

Some books capture the attention with a beautiful cover while others draw the reader with an intriguing plot or perhaps a prestigious award. 

Others catch you (sometimes off-guard) with a title so interesting and/or so shocking that it will haunt your imagination until you give up and read the darn book already. This was the case with Caitlin Doughty's latest.

Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs: Big Questions from Tiny Mortals About Death is one such book. I mean, LOOK at that title!! Really THINK about it (you know you're thinking about it) and let it reeeeeeally sink in. Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? With a title like this... you KNOW you have to read the book. Like, NOW! Else, that question will plague your life until you get a concrete answer.

I myself know the answer, because I devoured the book (like so many tasty morsels). But I won't give you the satisfaction of a spoiler. Because I'm that kind of librarian. HA!

Doughty is an L.A.-based mortician with her own funeral home, so she is the utmost authority on eyeball-eating pets and other such inquiries. Mostly these questions come from children, who don't seem to have the same death-aversion as do their older counterparts. For kids, the weirder, the grosser, the more bizarre, the better. And the best of the best questions are detailed here, for your morbid curiosity, inside the pages of Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?

This book is definitely NOT for the squeamish. Because it DOES deal in the details of decomposition. So perhaps not the best choice for mealtime reading either. But it is extremely interesting and comes highly recommended.

--AJB

Monday, September 16, 2019

Stargazing, by Jen Wang

I love stories about friendships that seem magical from the first! I mean, don't even get me started on Perks of Being a Wallflower. I will gush endlessly! And I will do the same of Jen Wang's amazing and incredible new graphic novel, Stargazing.

(although Stargazing is directed more toward a Middle School audience and Wallflower is decidedly mature)

In Stargazing, we meet Christine, the eldest daughter of very conservative and strict Chinese-American parents. Christine is shy, reserved and very responsible, but a part of her wishes she could break free of that image and be more herself... or, to be exact, the version of herself she wishes to be. If only her parents would allow it. If only she could allow herselfMoon, Christine's new neighbor, is everything Christine is not: Outgoing, free-spirited, imaginative. These two opposites become best friends. They plan to participate in the school's talent show together and Moon even tells Christine her deepest secret: That she has visions of magical beings who will, eventually, some to take her back to her home world somewhere among the stars.  Unfortunately, Moon's "visions" are a symptom of a brain tumor. Now it is up to Christine to be there for Moon. But cam she deal?

Stargazing dealt with so many feels-worthy subjects: Friendship, family drama, jealousy, and, of course Moon's scary health issues. But the author wove all the difficult elements into the story in such a way things never felt preachy or forced. Rather, it was just a beautiful story with wonderful characters and an equally wonderful message.

I recommend you grab Stargazing as soon it hits the shelves! You'll be so glad you did!

--AJB

Friday, September 6, 2019

Pumpkinheads, by Rainbow Rowell (illus: Faith Erin Hicks)

In honor of Pumpkin Spice Season 2019, I give you Pumpkinheads, the latest literary offering from Rainbow Rowell (author of Eleanor & Park and Fangirl). This seasonally fun graphic novel (illustrated by Faith Erin Hicks), is an absolute blast to read! And it most certainly did get this Summer-Loving librarian excited for Autumn. And for pumpkin spice...and apple pie...and S'mores...and kettle corn... and... Well, maybe I'm just hungry!

Anyway: It's Halloween, and best friends Deja and Josiah are wrapping up their last season ever at DeKnocks World Famous Pumpkin Patch & Autumn Jamboree. Come next fall, these two besties will have gone their separate ways to separate colleges. So Deja decides they must make the final night count! This means ditching their post and sampling all the tasty snacks DeKnocks has to offer and, most of all, helping Josiah finally talk to Marcy, the cute fudge shop girl he's been crushing on for three seasons but never had the guts to approach. As the night progresses, Deja and Josiah chase Marcy across patch and encounter petting zoo escapees, snack-snatching hooligans, evil exes, and rival employees. Will Josiah track down his crush before the patch closes for the night--and for the season? And, if he does, will the encounter be everything he hoped for?

You'll have to read the book to find out!

Pumpkinheads was such a fun adventure and I loved everything about it. The characters, the plot, the humor...and even the predictable (yet adorable) Rom-Com-worthy ending. This is one of those books that leaves you feeling happy. And I highly, highly recommend it!

--AJB

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Snow, Glass, Apples, by Neil Gaiman (illus: Colleen Doran)

Firstly, a word of caution: Snow, Glass, Apples is not your average Disney fairy tail. 

Neil Gaiman, the Grand Master of Dark (and gorgeous!) Fantasy, puts a vampiric spin on the classic tale of Snow White with this beautiful graphic novel. In this version, we focus on the so-called Evil Queen...who, as we learn, may not be so evil after all.

This well-known Villain (who is not really a villain) narrates this creepy tale, telling how she came to the palace as an innocent girl who naively believed she was to have her own Happily Ever After... Until she met her new stepdaughter and learned that the girl, while impossibly beautiful, is not, in fact, the sweet and innocent princess Disney taught us to know and love. In fact, this Snow White is a bloodthirsty monster who murdered her mother and, when banished to the forest, preyed on the citizens of the kingdom. Using the classic poison apple ploy, the Queen believed she had defeated her stepdaughter. And she did...until a prince with exceptionally creepy ideals came along and foiled her plan. No spoilers, but I will say that things do not end well for the Queen. In this story, there is no Happily Ever After for anyone. Except, perhaps, the real villain. 

To me, the dark and disturbing vibe of Snow Glass Apples was, perhaps, closer to what the Grimm's Brothers were shooting for when they first penned the tale. The illustrations are haunting and beautiful, and artist Colleen Doran did an amazing job bringing the tale to life.

If you prefer your fairy tales with Happy Endings, this is not for you. But if you have a taste for the macabre, you should absolutely pick this one up! It's just as good as How to Talk to Girls At Parties or Sleeper and the Spindle (if not better).

--AJB


Cat Shaming, by Pedro Andrade

Popular blogger Pedro Andrade's Dog Shaming was such a hit, he had to give props to America's other favorite household pet: The Cat.

Cat Shaming (shelf location: T636A) is hilarious as can be, and I found myself literally laughing out loud as I flipped through it. These adorable felines are accused of everything from biting and vomiting to yowling at 3 a.m. to destruction of property. Some are even Cat Burglers in the most literal sense. However, none of them look the least bit ashamed. On the contrary, their reactions range from indifferent to downright proud! In fact, the very term "Cat Shaming" is, to me, an oxymoron. Because any person who is now, or has ever been, will tell you that you can't shame a cat. Because cats are above it...ALL of it.

Still, Cat Shaming is an amusing and fun read. I've been owned by cats for more than 15 years and, I read, I related to quite a bit of the feline antics (For example, when my Luna is especially displeased, she will empty the food dish...and then Revenge Vomit the contents right in the path of the highest foot traffic. And she's not sorry either). I'd recommend this for anyone who has ever been owned by cats or just enjoys cat memes.

--AJB

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Summer Reading Reviews, Part 10

The Star of Kazan
The Star of Kazan is about a girl named Annika who as a baby is found in a church./  She grows as a servant.  One day her "mother" comes and takes her away.  She becomes an aristocrat and a "Von).  Then an old lady who is dead leaves her a trunk full of jewels.  Her mother sells them.  Then Annika is sent to a school.  After that, her friends have to save her.

Circles of Seven
I read Circles of Seven by Christian fantasy author Brian Davis, the third book in the thrilling series Dragons in Our Midst.  I discovered this series first when I found out about this amazing challenge.  This book will have you hurtling off a cliff with the characters Billy and Bomiel.  He is very clear about the subject of book dragons, and danger, and Jesus Christ.  I would recommend this book to anyone who would listen.  I can say that there was never a part I didn't like.

Land of Stories audiobook
The Land of Stories is about two twins escaping a book. I also liked the authors voices.

Girls World, August 2019, magazine review
I really enjoyed reading Girl Woprld 2019 August edition!  the magazine included games, recipes, fun quizzes, and tons of DIY's.  Even though this is a little different from the magazines I usually read, I still loved it!  I highly recommend this issue!

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Summer Reading Reviews, Part 9

Cats (CD review)
Most musical CD's I've listened to make sense.  But this one was totally crazy, wacky, and quirky with a good beat and it made me want to dance!  I loved all of the names of the cats and I would totally want to see the actual musical.  I recommend this to anyone who like fin, upbeat music and cats!

Every Soul a Star
Ally, Bree, and Jack couldn't be different and have never met each other in their lives.  But a total solar eclipse brings them together and they discover that they're more alike than they realize.  With Ally's friend Ryan and Bree's sister Melanie, they attempt the almost impossible- finding the exoplanet.  This book was very interesting and in depth.  My favorite scene in this book was the solar eclipse scene because I've never seen a full solar eclipse.  This book gave me so much detail about what it would look like.  I'd recommend this book to, well, anyone because it's got something in it for every one to enjoy.

Mr. Lemoncello
Mr. Lemoncello and the Lemon Heads are back- this time competing in a VR game against Charles Chillington and his team of 8th grade bookworms.  There are twists and surprises around ever corner.  (Get ready for Haley Daley and her Kid Palooza Peeps.)  But nobody would expect any other because- Hello?  It's Lemoncello!  I loved all of these books because they are so unexpected and fin with lots of fun library facts and cool games.  I would recommend this book to anyone who loves fin books, adventure books, and fiction books.

Evermore by Sara Holland
Jules Ember is in hiding. She's trying to stay away from her enemy- the sorceress names Caro.  Jules must find a way to defeat Caro so she cannot break her heart.  On the way she learned that she loves  ****.  (Removed in case of spoilers!)

Star of Kazan
I read the Star of Kazan.  I really liked it.  I liked how she loved to be friendly and was never mean.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Summer Reading Reviews, Part 8

Taste of Home
The July-August 2019 edition of Taste of Home magazine is great for those who like to cook food or bake goodies.  It's great for those of us who just like looking at food and reading about it.  Make sure to take a look at it on Flipster today!

City of Fallen Angels
Clary is training to become a more skilled Shadowhunter.  Her mother is marrying Luke.  Some unknown person is murdering Shadowhunters for an unknown reason, but somehow its all connected.  Jace, Clary, and Simon must stop whoever is doing it before it gets too far.

Leepike Ridge
This is a really good book for adventurous readers.  It's about Tom who lives by Leepike Ridge, and he escapes his house to get some fresh air because Tom's teacher asks his mom to marry him and eventually ends up below Leepike Ridge.

Percy Jackson's Greek Heroes
I really enjoyed the book Percy Jackson's Greek Heroes.   I enjoyed reading a different perspective on the Greek myths.  Percy's retellings are hilarious and enjoyable, making it a refresher from the old myths.  I enjoyed the fresh perspective on the stories and the fascinatingly enjoyable illustrations.  I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a creative take on the old classics.

The 100
I read The 100 by Cass Morgan.  Overall, I really liked the book.  I thought the characters had very interesting character development.

Wink Poppy Midnight, by April Genevieve Tucholke

Some stories unfold like a fairy tale: Predictable, and with clear-cut heroes and villains. Other times, it's harder to tell who is whom: The scary-looking Ogre could harbor a heart of gold while the beautiful maiden is as evil as the night is dark. And sometimes there are infinite grey areas. And the reader can't begin to know who they can trust. Even after the final page is turned.

The later is the case with April Genevieve Tucholke's exciting novel Wink Poppy Midnight. Wink is the quirky redhead who is obsessed with obscure fairy tales. Poppy is the Queen Bee and crueler than a whole horde of mean girls put together. Midnight is the shy, quiet boy caught between them. But what, at first, seems a Trope As Old As Twilight quickly morphs into a mystery that changes with every chapter. A mystery that cumulates one fateful night when the paths of the tree teens clash at the haunted house...and something unexpected and awful happens. 

There is romance.

There is intrigue.

There are clues scattered throughout that are so well-hidden the reader won't recognize them for what they are until much, much later.

And finally, at the end, the reader must decide: Who is the REAL villain? Who is the REAL hero? And do these designations even exist?

Wink Poppy Midnight recalled, for me, E. Lockhart's popular novel We Were Liars. The plots and settings of the two books are completely different, but the way the authors handled the mystery-building and the Big Reveal Plot Twist were reminiscent of each other. The endings of both stories had me completely shocked. And then I was flipping back through the pages searching for clues (they were there, but so embedded in the plot and dialogue I didn't see them for what they were).

If you're looking for an incredible mystery that will keep you on the edge of your seat, pick up Wink Poppy Midnight. And let us know what you thought.

--AJB

Spellbook of the Lost and Found, by Moria Fowley-Doyle

It all begins on a Dark and Stormy night. 

The lives of three teens (Olive, Laurel, and Hazel) are inexplicably drawn together in the aftermath of the town's annual bonfire when a mysterious handwritten notebook titled The Spellbook of the Lost and Found comes into their possession under just as mysterious circumstances. Each of the girls has lost something recently, some things small and trivial (bracelets, hair clips), others life-changing and important (diaries, reputations), so they decide to perform the ritual written inside the book in hopes of recovering the lost items.

They're not completely serious when they perform the ritual (I mean, really? A spellbook? How old are they? Like, 11?), but they're astonished when they discover that the spell actually worked. The missing items begin to turn up in strange places, along with other things they weren't looking for... Like the discovery of three runaways secretly squatting in the abandoned housing development. Or the enigmatic guitar-playing Jude, who may (or may not) be the origin of the trouble in the first place. Also, all magic comes with a price. And, as time goes on and the repercussions of their actions come to light, the girls aren't sure the cost was worth what they got out of it.

One thing's for certain: The ritual has caused an immeasurable amount of trouble in their town, and the girls figure the only way to undo it is to repeat the ritual. So they do. But will this fix things...or make them worse?

You'll have to read the book to find out (Yep, I just pulled that).

Did you love Spellbook
of the Lost and Found?
Try this one!
Moria Fowley-Doyle's sophomore effort is seeped in a perfect blend of magic and strangeness, an ideal combination as we approach the Halloween Season (which, as we all know, begins October 1), when all things mysterious and magical are appreciated even more so than any other time of year. The shifting viewpoints take some getting used to, but as you get deeper into the story things quickly come together, piece by piece. And the Big Reveal makes it all worth the effort. So stick with this book! Follow the trail of clues! You'll be more than glad you did.

And if you enjoyed Spellbook of the Lost and Found (because of course you did), be sure to check out Fowley-Doyle's other book, The Accidenet Season, which is just as engrossing and just as magical.

--AJB