Posted in book review, books, kidlit, Uncategorized

Children’s Book Week: Mighty, Mighty Construction Site

Today’s book is one that both my 4 year old and I enjoy. The title is Mighty, Mighty Construction Site by Sherri Duskey and Tom Lichtenheld. It’s the sequel to Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site which used to be a favorite of my son’s (before he got into his bugs and dinosaur obsession). Mighty, Mighty Construction Site is well illustrated and the story theme is teamwork, which I like a lot. Even though my son usually no longer cares for construction or truck related books, this one is a hit with him. And it’s a hit with me, too.

(Here’s the Goodreads link for a full description and a sample: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34107577-mighty-mighty-construction-site )

Posted in book review, books, memoir

Driving Miss Norma: One Family’s Journey Saying “Yes” to Living

One day I came home to a package in front of the door, but I wasn’t expecting anything. Shelf Awareness had a giveaway for the book Driving Miss Norma and didn’t notify me I won, so it was a nice surprise. Before seeing that giveaway listing, I hadn’t known anything about Miss Norma. This book is about how, at 90 years old, Miss Norma was diagnosed with cancer. Rather than undergo surgery, chemo, and other medical interventions, she chose to go on an epic road trip with her son (who has a nomadic lifestyle with his wife).

This book is inspiring. Miss Norma had rarely been outside of her home area before she was 90 years old. But not everyone is going to live to 90 and have the chance she did of this epic road trip. So, it makes you think that you should take the adventures (or whatever is on your heart) now. I’m risk adverse. For too much of my life I’ve let fear make decisions for me. There have been some moments of (possibly ill advised) bravery that for the most part gave me some big blessings. That makes me take this to heart particularly.

Also, I just love memoirs, yet I read them so rarely lately. There is something wonderful about reading about other people’s true personal stories (though I prefer they not be particularly dark like memoirs of women who’ve been sex slave kidnap victims/survivors). I’m very interested in people in general and this book reminds me that I really should read more memoirs.

Yes, I did win this book, but I’m not going to lie and say I like a book even if I did get it for free. I just really enjoyed this book. It’s not all sunshine and roses, since the woman is having this road trip due to a cancer diagnosis, but it was an enjoyable read. My only complaint is that there were no photographs and hopefully the final copy of the book (since I had an ARC) will have some, especially since one of the co-authors mentions that she took a lot of photos during the journey.

According to Goodreads, this book will be released in the U.S. on May 2nd.

Posted in book review, books, Uncategorized

The Red Car by Marcy Dermansky

When I first read about The Red Car by Marcy Dermansky, I thought it was a book about a woman who inherits a red car and goes on a road trip of self-discovery à la Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. A woman does inherit a red car in this book, but otherwise it’s not like what I expected. It’s a meandering story of a woman at a turning point in her life, doing a lot of self-reflection on the life she used to have. I really enjoyed it and gave it 4 stars on Goodreads. It’s a short book, so a quick read. And a diverse cast of supporting characters, which was nice to see.

Posted in book review, books, diverse books, Uncategorized

Short Fiction Weekend

This was a short fiction weekend for me. It was a nice change of pace. I have never checked out a comic book from the library before, but I saw Saga, Volume One in the library and decided to check it out. Saga, by Brian K. Vaughan, has gotten a lot of rave reviews and I can now see why. It is a fun comic book, though I only recommend it for adults. While it’s a comic of adventure, there are serious story lines within. My only complaint is there were at least two incidences of offensive dialogue.

The other short fiction of this past weekend was the award winning novella Binti by Nnedi Okorafor. I am not a huge science fiction and fantasy reader, but that appears to be another theme of this weekend. This was a fun SFF ride through space and with aliens.  The second book in the series comes out soon and I plan to read it as soon as possible. I highly recommend this one, and not just for adults. This book is great for those seeking diverse/inclusive stories as it features a black girl and by a black author.

One of my frequent complaints with books is that the story might drag in places or I just think it needed tighter editing and some parts of the book cut out entirely. The beauty of comic books and novellas are that there isn’t really space for drag or unnecessary parts.

Posted in book review, books, historical fiction, Uncategorized

The Tumbling Turner Sisters by Juliette Fay

The Tumbling Turner Sisters become a family of vaudevillians after their father is injured and can’t work. Four sisters are acrobats, while their mother travels along as their manager. The book is a fun look at vaudeville and family drama in the 1920s.

I like historical fiction, especially around this time period in the U.S., so this book is right up my alley. The characters are well written and I cared what happened to them throughout the book. The main characters are two of the sisters, Winnie and Gert, who are also alternating narrators. The look into vaudeville was fun (while also highlighting some realistic negatives) and I appreciated seeing an author’s note explaining what was factual or based on reality. I liked how the book ended and I highly doubt the author plans to make this into a series, but I would love another book focused on all of the sisters or even just one of them.

Posted in book review, books, diverse books, Uncategorized

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

My first book read in 2017 (for myself and not my 4 year old) is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I saw this book at the library at the end of last year and decided it would make a good first read of the new year. I checked out a 25th anniversary edition, which made it a bit more attractive and reminded me  I need to read more books that are not new releases.

It is the story of a boy (though young adult or older teen might be better terms, “boy” is how he is referred to throughout the book) who has a dream that leads him on a spiritual and adventurous journey. The book has a big lesson and some smaller ones in this parable. The Alchemist is good and mildly inspirational to me. I think it would have had more personal impact if I was in my late teens or early 20s. I am in my late 30s and married with a young child. So, I am not exactly in the stage of life to pursue my dreams in a big way or even feel excited about an adventure. I mostly want a bit of peace and to settle down.

However, even an old (in spirit probably more than age) and unadventurous person can find things for them in this book. And the beginning of a year did turn out to be an excellent time to read this book, as this is the time for goals and thinking of how a person wants to go forward in the new year (and in life in general). The lessons I took were to be open to what is around me, live in the present (which is harder for me since I am a planner and really want live more in the future), listen to my heart (as the books says or as I think of it “listening to my instincts”), and have courage (which has never been my strong suit).

While I think this is good if you or someone you know is looking for inspiration (like a recent or upcoming high school or college graduate) this is a good one, it is also a fun fantasy novella.

If you are looking to check off categories for a reading challenge, this book is a novella (less than 200 pages), it is a translated book (originally published in Brazil), and it provides a diverse/inclusive perspective since Paulo Coelho is Brazilian.

Posted in book review, books, historical fiction

Girl in Disguise by Greer Macallister

When I found out there was a book written about the first female Pinkerton agent, I had to read it. Girl in Disguise is loosely based on a real woman who was the first female Pinkerton operative. This book doesn’t disappoint. I read it in just a couple of days and I’m a slow reader. It’s a fun historical novel, full of adventure. Kate Warne was hired around 1856 by Allen Pinkerton of the famous Pinkerton detective agency. As expected, a woman at that time and being the very first female agent, she has trouble being taken seriously, but proves herself an excellent agent.

I’d love to see this made into a TV show, especially since it’s a standalone novel and with the many cases Kate Warne would have worked, a series (TV or novels) makes sense (and would be fun to watch or read). I’m not big on nonfiction, especially if we’re not talking about memoirs, but this book makes me quite interested in the real Pinkerton agency, so I’ll be looking for a book about that now.

I received an eARC from NetGalley for an honest review. The book is expected to be published in March 2017.

Posted in book review, books

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney

Lillian Boxfish is an interesting woman reflecting on her life as an 84 year old woman living in New York City in the book Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk. The life she reflects on includes her move to New York City as a young woman in the 1920s and through the decades to her life as an 84 year old woman at the very end of 1984.

I enjoyed this book. I like historical fiction, as I said Lillian is an interesting character, and it involves the world of advertising. I am a big Mad Men fan. Part of the reason I really like historical fiction is that I find history to be fascinating and this book has little bits of real U.S. history mixed in, not just Lillian’s personal life. I also liked knowing Lillian Boxfish is inspired by a real woman. Though whenever I read or watch fiction based on real events or people, I’m always curious what really happened and what is pure fiction. Regardless, I recommend this book. It was a fascinating look at much of a century in New York City and the life of an ad woman.

I received an e-copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The book is scheduled to be published on January 17th, 2017.

 

 

 

Posted in book review, books, short story collections

Difficult Women by Roxane Gay

I’ve been a fan of Roxane Gay for a few years now. Bad Feminist was the first book I ever pre-ordered and one of the few essay collections I’ve read. So, even though I don’t normally read short story collections, I knew I had to read Difficult Women.

Difficult Women is a short story collection with women obviously being a strong focal point. There is quite a range of stories in the collection. There are stories of the fantasy and science fiction genres, in addition to the literary fiction that I was expecting. I think the fantasy and science fiction stories are among my favorite in the collection, so they were delightful surprises. Some of the stories take place in Upper Pennisula Michigan. I was a little thrilled with each of those stories for personal reasons. I’m from northeastern Wisconsin, so that’s close to where I lived for most of my life.

Roxane Gay is a talented writer and it definitely shows in this collection. All of the stories are well written. It’s an excellent book and it makes me want to seek out more short story collections.

I received this book as an e-galley from NetGalley. (This does not affect my review.) The original release date was listed as January 3rd, 2017, but the book has been released early and is available as of today.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in book review, books, ya

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Uprooted is a fantasy book about magic, girls, a forest and a man known as the Dragon. When I first heard of the book, I wasn’t interested. I’m not sure what about the description didn’t appeal to me, but it just didn’t. However, on Litsy, I’ve seen people rave about the book. And when enough people go wild about a book on Litsy, I listen. So when I saw a copy of Uprooted while browsing the new books section at the library, I decided to check it out. I’m very glad I did.

It is an excellent book from start to finish. A solid 4 star read. It involves some of my favorite story elements with the magic, a strong female main character, and special connection to nature. The book ended in a satisfactory way, but I still find myself disappointed that this is a standalone novel. I’d love to read more adventures of Agnieszka.