Bookish, Wrap Ups

Book Wrap-Up: June 2018

June was a big reading month for me, because I set about challenging myself to the Ultimate Summer Reading Challenge.  Thus, I found myself gobbling down all sorts of different titles and subjects!

 

1. Widows, Lynda La Plante

WidowsThree-Star-Review

THE BASIS FOR STEVE MCQUEEN’S UPCOMING MAJOR MOTION PICTURE, WIDOWS IS A FAST-PACED HEIST THRILLER WITH AN ALL FEMALE CAST YOU WON’T FORGET.
Before PRIME SUSPECT there was WIDOWS . . . Facing life alone, they turned to crime together. Dolly Rawlins, Linda Pirelli and Shirley Miller are left devastated when their husbands are killed in a security van heist that goes disastrously wrong. When Dolly discovers her husband Harry’s bank deposit box, containing a gun, money – and detailed plans for the hijack – she realises that she only has three options: 1. Give up and forget she ever found them; 2. Hand over Harry’s ledgers to the police, or to the thugs that have been hassling her for information they think she has; 3. She and the other widows could carry out the robbery themselves Novices in the craft of crime, the three women make their preparations. Along the way they discover that Harry’s plan required four people, not three. But only three bodies were discovered in the carnage of the original hijack – so who was the fourth man, and where is he now? Recruiting hooker Bella O’Reilly as their fourth, the widows are determined to execute their plan. Facing mounting pressure from DI Resnick, and local thugs Arnie and Tony Fisher, can they stick together and finish the job their husbands started . . .

Goodreads

I wrote up a complete review of this during the month of June, so, like I tend to do, I’ll keep it brief:  This organized crime thriller felt a little dated, which only makes sense considering it’s original publication date.  I found some of the characters engaging, and I enjoyed the twists at the beginning and the end of the book.  I would have liked more engaging stuff in the middle, and I don’t know that I want to read any more of the books in this series.

 

2. I Am Jackie Robinson, Brad Meltzer (Illus. by Christopher Elropoulos)

i am jackie robinsonFive-Star-Review

Jackie Robinson always loved sports, especially baseball. But he lived at a time before the Civil Rights Movement, when the rules weren’t fair to African Americans. Even though Jackie was a great athlete, he wasn’t allowed on the best teams just because of the color of his skin. Jackie knew that sports were best when everyone, of every color, played together. He became the first black player in Major League Baseball, and his bravery changed African-American history and led the way to equality in all sports in America.
This engaging series is the perfect way to bring American history to life for young children, providing them with the right role models, supplemementing Common Core learning in the classroom, and best of all, inspiring them to strive and dream.

Goodreads

This book was just adorable.  It gave a quick and easy overview to most of Jackie’s life, and it was a fun blend of picture book and graphic novel.  I think it will speak to a lot of youngsters at different ages, and it’s a great introductory historical text to a recent American figure.  I’m so glad we have this series!

 

3. We Need to Talk About Kevin, Lionel Shriver

we need to talk about kevinFour-Star-Review

The gripping international bestseller about motherhood gone awry.
Eva never really wanted to be a mother – and certainly not the mother of the unlovable boy who murdered seven of his fellow high school students, a cafeteria worker, and a much-adored teacher who tried to befriend him, all two days before his sixteenth birthday. Now, two years later, it is time for her to come to terms with marriage, career, family, parenthood, and Kevin’s horrific rampage in a series of startlingly direct correspondences with her estranged husband, Franklin. Uneasy with the sacrifices and social demotion of motherhood from the start, Eva fears that her alarming dislike for her own son may be responsible for driving him so nihilistically off the rails.

Goodreads

This is the second time in my life that I have listened to this audiobook, and I still find it to be one the best I’ve ever heard.  And this novel in and of itself is amazing.  However, it is not a light and exciting read.  Eva’s account of her son and their relationship will at least set you on edge, if not give you chills and leave you sleepless.  This is a super timely text that explores the trauma of school “shootings” while at the same time wrestling with the topic of nature vs. nurture.  As Shriver says herself, you aren’t really sure in the end how Kevin came out the way he did.  And that, perhaps, is the most terrifying revelation of all.

 

4. Rise of the Superheroes: Greatest Silver Age Comic Books and Characters, Daniel Tosh

rise of the superheroesFour-Star-Review

They Could Be Heroes
Rise of the Superheroes–Greatest Silver Age Comic Books and Characters is a visual and entertaining adventure exploring one of the most popular and significant eras of comic book history. From 1956 to 1970, the era gave us Spider-Man, The Avengers, X-Men, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man and a flurry of other unforgettable and formidable characters.
The Silver Age redefined and immortalized superheroes as the massive pop culture titans they are today.
Lavishly illustrated with comic book covers and original art, the book chronicles:
The new frontier of DC Comics, with a revamped Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, and new characters including Hawkman
Marvel’s new comics featuring Thor and The Fantastic Four
The pop art years that saw Batman’s “new look” and the TV series
Independent characters, including Fat Fury and T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents
Spotlights new and re-imagined superheroes, like Wonder Woman, who have become central to modern pop culture
Includes values of these comics, which are popular with collectors
Thanks to the Silver Age, superheroes are bigger and badder than ever.

Goodreads

This should look familiar!  That’s right, I published a review of this book just last Thursday.  Check it out, if you like!

TL;DR: Great look at comic book superheroes for those who appreciate the genre and its history.

 

5. Bright Lights, Big City, Jay McInerney

bright lights big cityFive-Star-Review

With the publication of Bright Lights, Big City in 1984, Jay McInerney became a literary sensation, heralded as the voice of a generation. The novel follows a young man, living in Manhattan as if he owned it, through nightclubs, fashion shows, editorial offices, and loft parties as he attempts to outstrip mortality and the recurring approach of dawn. With nothing but goodwill, controlled substances, and wit to sustain him in this anti-quest, he runs until he reaches his reckoning point, where he is forced to acknowledge loss and, possibly, to rediscover his better instincts. This remarkable novel of youth and New York remains one of the most beloved, imitated, and iconic novels in America.

Goodreads

This was one of my favorite Required Reading books from my undergrad degree.  I like that it is written in second person, which you don’t see all that often.  And the time period in which McInerney wrote was so tumultuous, this text captures the briefest picture of that part of America’s history.  I see this book as a slightly-more-grown-up The Catcher in the Rye, and I think many young people will see themselves in this protagonist, whether from a literal interpretation of the text or a figurative one.

At the same time, it is still one of those English Major Books.

 

6. The Amityville Horror, Jay Anson

amityville horrorFour-Star-Review

On December 18, 1975, a young family of five moved into their new home, complete with finished basement, swimming pool, and boathouse. Twenty-eight days later, they fled in terror, leaving most of their belongings behind. — The fantastic story of their experiences was widely publicized on network television, newspapers, and national magazines. But the Lutz family never disclosed the full details to the media. Now, their own carefully-reconstructed memories — and independent interviews with local clergy and police — reveal their entire harrowing story.
George and Kathleen Lutz were aware that the house had been the scene of a mass murder — Ronnie DeFeo, 23, was convicted of shooting his parents, brothers, and sisters. But it seemed an ideal home for them and their three children, and the price was right. On the day they moved in, a priest invited to bless the house was told by an unseen voice to “Get out!” At his rectory, he began to suffer a series of inexplicable afflictions. Meanwhile, alone in their new home, the Lutz family were embarking on the most terrifying experience of their lives. It began when their five-year-old daughter boasted of her new playmate, someone — or something — named “Jodie.”
THE AMITYVILLE HORROR is an unforgettable book with all the shocks and gripping suspense of THE EXORCIST, THE OMEN, or ROSEMARY’S BABY — but with one vital difference! As the author reports, “To the extent that I can verify them, all the events in this book are true.”

Goodreads

SO. CREEPY.  Seriously.  I had to put this one “down” (aka turn off the audiobook) any time I was alone in the library where I work.  The crazy things this book recounts are goosebump-inducing frights.  I even went in with the knowledge that most of the book’s contents had been debunked, but it didn’t matter.  This is not the scary story book you want to read in the dark, for sure.  And any true lover of horror needs to make sure they spend some time between these pages.

 

7. First Love, Ivan Turgenev

first loveFive-Star-Review

This vivid, sensitive tale of adolescent love follows a 16-year-old boy who falls in love with a beautiful, older woman and experiences a whirlwind of changing emotions, from exaltation and jealousy to despair and devotion.
This beautifully packaged series of classic novellas includes the works of masterful writers. Inexpensive and collectible, they are the first single-volume publications of these classic tales, offering a closer look at this underappreciated literary form and providing a fresh take on the world’s most celebrated authors.

Goodreads

I just love Turgenev.  I read Fathers and Sons in college, and have always meant to return to his other works–as well as other Russian authors’.  So, when I stumbled across this little novella, I got really excited!  It’s Russian lit–but, like, super abridged!

The story was entertaining, a fun take on first loves and first heartbreaks.  I didn’t like it as well as the longer text, but it made for a delightful afternoon stroll through a classic.

 

8. The Woman in Cabin 10, Ruth Ware

woman in cabin 10Four-Star-Review

Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. The sky is clear, the waters calm, and the veneered, select guests jovial as the exclusive cruise ship, the Aurora, begins her voyage in the picturesque North Sea. At first, Lo s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a dark and terrifying nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong.

Goodreads

There’s nothing like a good mystery to pass the time in the summer!  This was my first Ware read, and after finishing it, I can’t wait to dive into the others.  The plot was  twisty-turny, and the reveals fell in a series of climaxes.  I also found the ending to be quite satisfying, in terms of eventual retribution.

It was perhaps a little “long” in the middle, and some elements felt overused and cliche (how many books do we need about characters questioning their sanity?  And why does it seem a disproportionate number of these characters happen to be women?).  Still, this book is an excellent addition to the new and improved mystery genre, and I highly recommend it to those puzzle-minded people like me.

 

9. Blood Water Paint, Joy McCullough

Blood water paintFive-Star-Review

A debut novel based on the true story of the iconic painter, Artemisia Gentileschi.
Her mother died when she was twelve, and suddenly Artemisia Gentileschi had a stark choice: a life as a nun in a convent or a life grinding pigment for her father’s paint.
She chose paint.
By the time she was seventeen, Artemisia did more than grind pigment. She was one of Rome’s most talented painters, even if no one knew her name. But Rome in 1610 was a city where men took what they wanted from women, and in the aftermath of rape Artemisia faced another terrible choice: a life of silence or a life of truth, no matter the cost.

He will not consume
my every thought.
I am a painter.
I will paint.

I will show you
what a woman can do.

Goodreads

I love that novels in verse are popular audiobook choices, because while I could never sit myself down to read one, I love listening to them and experiencing their story.  This book was one such wonder.  I had been waiting patiently for its release this summer, so I dove right in.  I loved the use of ancient history and ancient mythology to tell a true–and all-too-relevant–account of a rape case in ancient Rome.  This is a beautifully spun portrait of a culture that continues to pervade contemporary time.  I imagine I will be reading it again, and maybe purchasing it.  All women should read this and see themselves in Artemisia’s strength and resilience.

 

10. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Newt Scamander (J. K. Rowling)

fantastic beastsFive-Star-Review

An approved textbook at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry since publication, Newt Scamander’s masterpiece has entertained wizarding families through the generations. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is an indispensable introduction to the magical beasts of the Wizarding World. Scamander’s years of travel and research have created a tome of unparalleled importance. Some of the beasts will be familiar to readers of the Harry Potter books – the Hippogriff, the Basilisk, the Hungarian Horntail … Others will surprise even the most ardent amateur Magizoologist. This is an essential companion to the Harry Potter stories, and includes a new foreword from J.K. Rowling (writing as Newt Scamander) and six new beasts!

Goodreads

The best part about this audiobook is having Eddy Redmayne read it to you.  It was a phenomenal little afternoon experience.  This is one of the better audiobook productions, as it goes beyond basic reading to include the asides written into the original text, and you even get beastly sounds for many of the creatures!  I’ll admit, this threw me for a loop at first, but I came to enjoy it.  All the Hogwarts family should take a couple hours and listen to this little nugget.

 

11. The Summer of Jordi Perez (and the Best Burger in Los Angeles), Amy Spalding

Jordi PerezFive-Star-Review

Seventeen, fashion-obsessed, and gay, Abby Ives has always been content playing the sidekick in other people’s lives. While her friends and sister have plunged headfirst into the world of dating and romances, Abby has stayed focused on her plus-size style blog and her dreams of taking the fashion industry by storm. When she lands a prized internship at her favorite local boutique, she’s thrilled to take her first step into her dream career. She doesn’t expect to fall for her fellow intern, Jordi Perez. Abby knows it’s a big no-no to fall for a colleague. She also knows that Jordi documents her whole life in photographs, while Abby would prefer to stay behind the scenes.
Then again, nothing is going as expected this summer. She’s competing against the girl she’s kissing to win a paid job at the boutique. She’s somehow managed to befriend Jax, a lacrosse-playing bro type who needs help in a project that involves eating burgers across L.A.’s eastside. Suddenly, she doesn’t feel like a sidekick. Is it possible Abby’s finally in her own story?
But when Jordi’s photography puts Abby in the spotlight, it feels like a betrayal, rather than a starring role. Can Abby find a way to reconcile her positive yet private sense of self with the image that other people have of her?
Is this just Abby’s summer of fashion? Or will it truly be The Summer of Jordi Perez (and the Best Burger in Los Angeles)?

Goodreads

By the end of this year, y’all are going to be sick of hearing about Jordi Perez, but I can’t stop thinking about how wonderful it is.  It makes my entire heart happy!

You can read my full review if you like, but I’ll leave it at this: mushy, gooey adorableness, beginning to end.

 

12. The Science of Breakable Things, Tae Keller

science of breakable thingsFive-Star-Review

How do you grow a miracle? 
For the record, this is not the question Mr. Neely is looking for when he says everyone in class must answer an important question using the scientific method. But Natalie’s botanist mother is suffering from depression, so this is The Question that’s important to Natalie. When Mr. Neely suggests that she enter an egg drop competition, Natalie has hope.
Eggs are breakable. Hope is not. 
Natalie has a secret plan for the prize money. She’s going to fly her mother to see the Cobalt Blue Orchids–flowers that survive against impossible odds. The magical flowers are sure to inspire her mother to love life again. Because when parents are breakable, it’s up to kids to save them, right?

Goodreads

What a wonderful story for young readers, addressing the sensitive topic of mental health!  I loved that Natalie isn’t your typical middle grade protagonist.  She’s not bookish, she isn’t really interested in school, and she’s investigating with the scientific method.  The treatment of the topic of depression is well done–easy answers aren’t offered, and the real day-to-day struggle of coping with the illness are shown through a young girl’s relatable eyes.  I see this book becoming a popular teacher’s pick, much like Wonder or other recent books that introduce the Tough Stuff in an accessible way.  And, anyway, I’m glad we have this book.

 

13. The Borrowers, Mary Norton

borrowersFour-Star-Review

Beneath the kitchen floor is the world of the Borrowers — Pod and Homily Clock and their daughter, Arrietty. In their tiny home, matchboxes double as roomy dressers and postage stamps hang on the walls like paintings. Whatever the Clocks need they simply “borrow” from the “human beans” who live above them. It’s a comfortable life, but boring if you’re a kid. Only Pod is allowed to venture into the house above, because the danger of being seen by a human is too great. Borrowers who are seen by humans are never seen again. Yet Arrietty won’t listen. There is a human boy up there, and Arrietty is desperate for a friend.

Goodreads

I never managed to pick this book up when I was younger, because the topic didn’t really hold my interest.  I did enjoy the Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli adaptation of the story, though, and thinking of that gave me the gumption to power through the original text.

I think this is a cute story, but there are far more exciting beings and creatures I would rather believe in than borrowers.  I like the structure of the book, and I can tell why it was so important and popular in its time.  At the same time, I don’t really want to finish the series.

 

14. They Both Die at the End, Adam Silvera

they both die at the endFour-Star-Review

Adam Silvera reminds us that there’s no life without death and no love without loss in this devastating yet uplifting story about two people whose lives change over the course of one unforgettable day.
On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today.
Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure—to live a lifetime in a single day.

Goodreads

You know, I’ve never considered myself to be a reckless optimist.  Then, I read this entire book, thinking, “You know, maybe they don’t…”

Spoiler alert, but not really: The two boys do, in fact, die at the end.

I liked a lot about this book, including its exploration of nihilism and hope.  It was also one of the most convincing one-day romances I’ve ever encountered.  I was less than satisfied with one large part of the ending, and even felt a little disappointed with its result.  However, the very conclusion of the book–that last line–is pure, poetic perfection.

 

15. The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway

old man and the seaFour-Star-Review

It is the story of an old Cuban fisherman and his supreme ordeal: a relentless, agonizing battle with a giant marlin far out in the Gulf Stream. Using the simple, powerful language of a fable, Hemingway takes the timeless themes of courage in the face of defeat and personal triumph won from loss and transforms them into a magnificent twentieth-century classic.

Goodreads

I finally read this short “classic.”  It was more than I expected it to be, and I actually enjoyed it.  I’m not a big fan of Hemingway, but I can appreciate what he accomplished here.  And while I recognize why many high school readers want to complain about how boring and pointless the book is, I feel like I grasped the deeper themes and meanings in the text.

Still, though, this isn’t a book I’d necessarily recommend outside of a classroom.

 

16. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, John Berendt

midnight in the garden of good and evilFour-Star-Review

A sublime and seductive reading experience. Brilliantly conceived and masterfully written, this enormously engaging portrait of a most beguiling Southern city has become a modern classic.
Shots rang out in Savannah’s grandest mansion in the misty, early morning hours of May 2, 1981. Was it murder or self-defense? For nearly a decade, the shooting and its aftermath reverberated throughout this hauntingly beautiful city of moss-hung oaks and shaded squares. John Berendt’s sharply observed, suspenseful, and witty narrative reads like a thoroughly engrossing novel, and yet it is a work of nonfiction. Berendt skillfully interweaves a hugely entertaining first-person account of life in this isolated remnant of the Old South with the unpredictable twists and turns of a landmark murder case.
It is a spellbinding story peopled by a gallery of remarkable characters: the well-bred society ladies of the Married Woman’s Card Club; the turbulent young redneck gigolo; the hapless recluse who owns a bottle of poison so powerful it could kill every man, woman, and child in Savannah; the aging and profane Southern belle who is the “soul of pampered self-absorption”; the uproariously funny black drag queen; the acerbic and arrogant antiques dealer; the sweet-talking, piano-playing con artist; young blacks dancing the minuet at the black debutante ball; and Minerva, the voodoo priestess who works her magic in the graveyard at midnight. These and other Savannahians act as a Greek chorus, with Berendt revealing the alliances, hostilities, and intrigues that thrive in a town where everyone knows everyone else.

Goodreads

This book has been on my TBR for a really long time, and I’m super glad I finally got to it!  It is quite the intriguing story.  I almost find it hard to believe that it’s based on true events–and real people!  I like how the book dwells somewhere between an action account and a character study.  Each element is relevant to the story being told, and I think Berendt did a good job of keeping a balance between the two.  I’m glad I don’t have to work to classify this book, because I wouldn’t know where to shelve it!  But, as it stands, it makes a good thriller, social commentary, vignette, and more.

 

17. There is No Good Card for This: What to Say and Do When Life is Scary, Awful, and Unfair to People You Love,  Kelsey Crowe, Emily McDowell

there is no good card for thisFour-Star-Review

The creator of the viral hit “Empathy Cards” teams up with a compassion expert to produce a visually stunning and groundbreaking illustrated guide to help you increase your emotional intelligence and learn how to offer comfort and support when someone you know is in pain.
When someone you know is hurting, you want to let her know that you care. But many people don’t know what words to use—or are afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing. This thoughtful, instructive guide, from empathy expert Dr. Kelsey Crowe and greeting card maverick Emily McDowell, blends well-researched, actionable advice with the no-nonsense humor and the signature illustration style of McDowell’s immensely popular Empathy Cards, to help you feel confident in connecting with anyone experiencing grief, loss, illness, or any other difficult situation.
Written in a how-to, relatable, we’ve-all-been-that-deer-in-the-headlights kind of way, There Is No Good Card for This isn’t a spiritual treatise on how to make you a better person or a scientific argument about why compassion matters. It is a helpful illustrated guide to effective compassion that takes you, step by step by step, past the paralysis of thinking about someone in a difficult time to actually doing something (or nothing) with good judgment instead of fear.
There Is No Good Card for This features workbook exercises, sample dialogs, and real-life examples from Dr. Crowe’s research, including her popular “Empathy Bootcamps” that give people tools for building relationships when it really counts. Whether it’s a coworker whose mother has died, a neighbor whose husband has been in a car accident, or a friend who is seriously ill, There Is No Good Card for This teaches you how to be the best friend you can be to someone in need.

Goodreads

I found this book in a Buzzfeed article, and felt I had to give it a try.  Comforting those going through a hard time is something I’ve always wanted to do well, but I haven’t necessarily learned the best methods.  This book has some great recommendations, for all sorts of situations.  I found it very helpful, particularly in regard to forgiving myself when my comforting abilities aren’t the best they can be.

At the same time, I feel like this book would have made an excellent blog post.  Everything got a little repetitive, and a full hardcover felt like a bit too much.  The information is still very worthwhile, but I’d go for a TL;DR version next time.

 

18. Symptoms of Being Human, Jeff Garvin

symptoms of being humanFive-Star-Review

The first thing you’re going to want to know about me is: Am I a boy, or am I a girl?

Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender fluid. Some days Riley identifies as a boy, and others as a girl. The thing is…Riley isn’t exactly out yet. And between starting a new school and having a congressman father running for reelection in uber-conservative Orange County, the pressure—media and otherwise—is building up in Riley’s so-called “normal” life.

On the advice of a therapist, Riley starts an anonymous blog to vent those pent-up feelings and tell the truth of what it’s REALLY like to be a gender fluid teenager. But just as Riley’s starting to settle in at school—even developing feelings for a mysterious outcast—the blog goes viral, and an unnamed commenter discovers Riley’s real identity, threatening exposure. Riley must make a choice: walk away from what the blog has created—a lifeline, new friends, a cause to believe in—or stand up, come out, and risk everything.

Goodreads

I’m going to start off by saying, I loved this book.  At least, inasmuch as one can love a book like this.  The topics it tackles are heavy, yet important.  And the story is engaging and challenging all at once.  I found myself confronting biases I didn’t know I had while reading, which was like holding up a mirror to my own prejudices.  And through this experience, I learned a lot and in many different ways.

Also, trigger warnings.  Trigger warnings everywhere.

Now, I will jump in to say, I am a cis woman who has never questioned the gender I was assigned at birth.  I also recognize that Riley was created by a cis, heterosexual man.  I know some who identify with terms that Riley uses may have a problem with that; because of the author’s lens, they may find Riley inauthentic or inaccurate.  I can’t say one way or another if I think Riley is an accurate representation of a genderfluid person or not because I don’t share that experience with this protagonist.  However, I will say it makes me uneasy that Riley was created by Jeff Garvin.  At some point soon, I would like to compare Riley against a genderfluid, agender, or nonbinary character created by someone who shares that identity.

 

19. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky

perks of being a wallflowerFive-Star-Review

The critically acclaimed debut novel from Stephen Chbosky, Perks follows observant “wallflower” Charlie as he charts a course through the strange world between adolescence and adulthood. First dates, family drama, and new friends. Sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Devastating loss, young love, and life on the fringes. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it, Charlie must learn to navigate those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.

Goodreads

To be honest, I just felt like I needed to spend some time with Charlie this month.  Reading this book again was like catching up with an old friend.  The entire book spoke healing and comfort to my soul in ways I wasn’t yet aware I needed.  Love always to you, Charlie.

 

20. This Book is Overdue!: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All, Marilyn Johnson

this book is overdueTwo-star-review

In This Book is Overdue!, acclaimed author Marilyn Johnson celebrates libraries and librarians, and, as she did in her popular first book, The Dead Beat, discovers offbeat and eloquent characters in the quietest corners. In defiance of doomsayers, Johnson finds librarians more vital and necessary than ever, as they fuse the tools of the digital age with love for the written word and the enduring values of truth, service to all, and free speech. This Book Is Overdue! is a romp through the ranks of information professionals who organize our messy world and offer old-fashioned human help through the maze.

Goodreads

This book felt super dated.  I know, it’s not the book’s fault that technology and culture change so quickly.  But it’s not even a decade old, and to be honest, half the stuff discussed is completely irrelevant.

I also felt like this one had a small identity crisis.  On the one hand, it felt like a memoir, which is totally fine (if that’s what you’re writing).  On the other, it felt like a propaganda piece for librarians, and not a very well-drawn one at that.  What Johnson celebrates is not necessarily what librarians are proud of in their careers.  It’s an archaic idea of what librarianship used to be, conflated with responsibilities most often assigned to an IT department.

And, I’m sorry, but systems switches and data transfers are just. not. that. interesting.  You can make them sound like an epic action-packed thriller all you want, but they will never be that intense.  The computers are slow/don’t work for a day.  Everyone complains.  Things get better.  The end.

 

AND LAST, BUT CERTAINLY NOT LEAST, AND POTENTIALLY MOST ADORABLY:

 

21. A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo, Marlon Bundo & Jill Twiss (Illus. E.G. Keller)

DAY IN THE LIFE OF MARLON BUNDO.jpgFive-Star-Review

HBO’s Emmy-winning Last Week Tonight with John Oliver presents a picture book about a Very Special boy bunny who falls in love with another boy bunny.
Meet Marlon Bundo, a lonely bunny who lives with his Grampa, Mike Pence – the Vice President of the United States. But on this Very Special Day, Marlon’s life is about to change forever…
With its message of tolerance and advocacy, this charming children’s book explores issues of same sex marriage and democracy. Sweet, funny, and beautifully illustrated, this book is dedicated to every bunny who has ever felt different.
100% of Last Week Tonight’s proceeds will be donated to The Trevor Project and AIDS United.

Goodreads

Guys, this book is just wonderful.  The characters are so delightful, the story is engaging, and the message–so important!  I found myself giggling and tearing up while I read it in a Barnes & Noble, and then I decided Marlon and Wesley needed to come home with me.

But seriously.  So many parodies go for the jugular, and they can turn so ugly.  They are lined with hate, vicious attacks on principles, and a general disinterest in creating anything beautiful.  This book does none of that.  It’s still super opinionated, yes.  You can’t read this and miss the message.  But it’s handled in a beautiful way, because this story is about love.

I’ve read it twice since I bought it, and then I bought the audiobook and listened to it twice more.  I will probably read it again just for good measure.

 

There it is!  The June reads!  I’ve already finished a few in July, and can’t wait to publish some individual reviews.  I’m also working on a post about a tag, so we’ll see how that turns out!

 

Cheers!

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