Saturday, October 14, 2017

Review: Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really do recommend reading this book, and then reading Sherman Alexie's You Don't Have to Say You Love Me. Vance's memoir is justification of why hillbillies in the rust belt are the way they are--they are declining rapidly as the generations go by. I am a product of the Scotch Irish, too, although my mom's side settled in southeast Indiana for a few generations after leaving Pennsylvania. And there the similarities end, other than the fact that I was raised to believe in work ethic and that my choices dictate where I end up, just like Vance's grandparents believed.

I did work in high schools in southern and central Illinois for 14 years, and I know exactly what kids were raised in families like Vance. They are the screamers and complainers--the ones who believe that EVERYONE is out to get them. And they don't take responsibility for their choices--ever. These are the kids that made me say "I wish I could take them away from their family" so that they had a chance. But the cycle repeats, the teenage pregnancy and drug use happens again, and very few escape. It's depressing. And we are supporting these families through social welfare, and our schools are trying their best to save some of these kids.

All rural and small town educators need to read this book. It's a great discussion starter, even if it isn't the sociologist tome that I was hoping it would turn into. I want a solution for the problems in my area of Illinois, yet Vance notes that it needs to be a community effort--not something that progressive schools can solve.

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Review: You'll Never Know, Dear

You'll Never Know, Dear You'll Never Know, Dear by Hallie Ephron
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I kept debating on quitting this book, but I had to find out if I had guessed the criminal correctly. I did. Creepy dolls are mentioned throughout--two older women make and repair dolls for a living. Two children were snatched from their yards over the years in their small South Carolina town, and they had dolls in common. Now all the secrets come out when a missing girl may have been found 40 years later.

I never connected with any of the characters--this is one of those books with many short chapters like most popular fiction. But I did like Ephron's Never Tell a Lie so I kept hoping this would get better.

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Friday, October 13, 2017

Review: You Don't Have to Say You Love Me

You Don't Have to Say You Love Me You Don't Have to Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Heartbreaking and oh, so good. Sherman Alexie has a way with words and his storytelling is what I want to read. Reading this memoir while listening to Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis was interesting--many parallels and similarities, but Alexie's grief and wordsmithing makes this a modern masterpiece. It is brave of him to publish this--I feel like I KNOW him and I want to hug him and thank his wife. I earmarked so many passages--crazy good poetry is interspersed throughout and his repeating of certain stories and passages that held meaning to him just made me more of an emotional wreck. This memoir gives you the feels.

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Monday, October 9, 2017

Review: The Right Side

The Right Side The Right Side by Spencer Quinn
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I loved Quinn's Chet and Bernie books, so I had to give this standalone novel a try. LeAnne Hogan wakes up at Walter Reed, injured and suffering from PTSD. She's not in a good place, and I really felt like I connected with her in the first half of the book. However, about the last quarter of the book didn't ring true to me--things wrapped up quickly, some improbable events happen, and, even though things turned out okay, it was just too cheesy for me.

But yay for a dog helping her heal!

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Review: Thin Air

Thin Air Thin Air by Ann Cleeves
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Classic British mystery, complete with a Shetland accent. Actually, I think it's a bit more of a posh Scottish accent, but I'll take it. Watch the BBC series Shetland if you haven't yet--it's awesome. And available from your library on DVD if you don't have Netflix.

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Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Review: Jihadi Jane

Jihadi Jane Jihadi Jane by Tabish Khair
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I couldn't manage the writing style--very melodramatic, and the narration was annoying. The accents, too, were odd and not very even. And it felt preachy to me, like an after school special about radicalization.

"Why don't you go and fight then?" asked Ameena, "You know t' 'oly Quran as well as A do. Yer know it says: Allah shall grant to t'jihadis above t'holders back a mighty reward." (p.60)

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Review: The Alice Network

The Alice Network The Alice Network by Kate Quinn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is perfect for those of you who love historical fiction. World War I AND II! Spies! Love! Heartache! Female friendships! It has everything. Some is, of course, hard to believe, but it was an enjoyable, if a bit long at times, read. This would make a great BBC miniseries.

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Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Review: This Fight Is Our Fight: The Battle to Save America's Middle Class

This Fight Is Our Fight: The Battle to Save America's Middle Class This Fight Is Our Fight: The Battle to Save America's Middle Class by Elizabeth Warren
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was so difficult to listen to, because it's hard to fight with the statistics and personal stories she gives. The state of the middle class right now refutes the whole trickle down theory of economics, yet I'm surrounded by people who believe it works. They believe that their life will improve when the rich people around them get richer. Unfortunately, rich people aren't that nice. History has proven that, thank you.

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Monday, October 2, 2017

Review: Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Easy and engaging audiobook! I've read a few novels that discussed the Osage murders, and so this nonfiction work filled in the blanks for me. So many senseless murders of Native Americans, only to line the pockets of greedy white people. Stupid to think that Osage weren't "trusted" enough to handle their oil money and needed white "guardians" to manage (or steal) their money. Disgusting. And crazy to think that all this wasn't settled until 2011 when our American government paid the Osage over $300 million in apology money.

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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Monday, September 25, 2017

Review: Girl Running: Bobbi Gibb and the Boston Marathon

Girl Running: Bobbi Gibb and the Boston Marathon Girl Running: Bobbi Gibb and the Boston Marathon by Annette Bay Pimentel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Thanks, Penguin, for sending along the ARC.

Quick and easy nonfiction picture book about the first woman to run the Boston Marathon, even after being told that women weren't allowed to participate. Perfect girl power book!

And I loved the timeline of the marathon with the elevation levels at the bottom of the pages....I

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Review: Raven Black

Raven Black Raven Black by Ann Cleeves
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love the BBC show (on Netflix!), so I wanted to read the novels to see if I love them, too. And I do, even with all the differences between the book and the tv series. So funny to realize what changed, and what stayed the same between them. I do miss Tosh from the TV series, but Inspector Jimmy Perez is the pretty much the same--awesome.

Read this if you love rural British mysteries, but not if you like the cozy type.

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Review: Down Among the Sticks and Bones

Down Among the Sticks and Bones Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well, this little book was creepishly delicious! Twin sisters are born to horrible people, and each are raised the way they ought to be--Jacqueline is the quiet and beautiful princess while Jllian is the tomboy who plays soccer. When the two girls have the chance to enter a magical world, they do so, and finally become themselves.

I didn't read book #2 of this series, and didn't need to--this is the prequel, so now I just want to run out and read the first, Every Heart a Doorway.

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Friday, September 22, 2017

Review: The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O.

The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. by Neal Stephenson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hilarious, huge novel about time travel and witchcraft. I wish it had been edited down a bit more, but it was nice to read a book and laugh out loud a lot!

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Friday, September 15, 2017

Review: Before We Were Yours

Before We Were Yours Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Very readable women's fiction about the nightmarish tales of children being stolen from families, bought, and sold at the Tennessee Children's Home Society in Memphis. Rill's siblings are snatched off their Mississippi river boat when their mother is in Memphis having another baby. Years later, a senator's daughter's chance encounter at a nursing home leads to seeing her grandmother in a photograph with other women who look like siblings. Secrets emerge. Quick and easy read!

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Review: Imagine Wanting Only This

Imagine Wanting Only This Imagine Wanting Only This by Kristen Radtke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I finished this book and said, "Hell, no!" after reading the last line. I won't spoil it for you, but, damn, this girl has a bleak outlook on life. The art was amazingly beautiful, but her idea of mourning/sadness/living is awfully bleak and I feel sorry for her.

I'm thankful that I don't have the same outlook on life as this author. And she seems like a "blue."

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Review: The Hate U Give

The Hate U Give The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This audiobook better receive some Odyssey love! I listened to the MP3 with my Odyssey ears and it sounded just about perfect--the only flaw was Haley's voice, but I think her voice was meant to be "annoying valley girl."

I cried and I laughed, which is a sign of a great read. Star's family is wonderful--supportive, yet with flaws, and their love makes this book. So many great topics are covered in this one--blended families, coming of age friendships, police brutality, racism, first loves, black lives matter, activism, and I can't forget Black Jesus.

Can't wait to see how many awards this book and author receive--it's just darn good.

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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Review: Quicksand

Quicksand Quicksand by Malin Persson Giolito
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

With about 100 pages edited out, this adult mystery translated from Swedish would have been outstanding. But it took almost a week for me to read it, because I was always finding something else to do, and that's not a good thing.

18-year-old Maja is on trial for a school shooting in a ritzy suburb, and the novel is told through transcript-like chapters of the court case (think Monster) and flashbacks. The flashbacks were a bit too long for me--I wanted to know if Maja was guilty or not, and reading about her horrific relationships were distressing. These high school kids in Sweden have better sex than I did in my 20s, and their drug use and lack of parental figures is nightmarish. I had to keep reading to find out what happened, though, which means that I skimmed a lot toward the end. 498 pages was just too long, even though I enjoyed Maja's teen-ish voice--she is hilarious and very observant.

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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Review: Grief Cottage

Grief Cottage Grief Cottage by Gail Godwin
My rating: 0 of 5 stars

Absolutely beautiful cover and the setting is almost a character in this novel. But just not my thing. I stopped on page 169, which was 5- pages over what I wanted to ready, but it was the only book I brought in for my pedicure.

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Review: Tiffany Girl

Tiffany Girl Tiffany Girl by Deeanne Gist
My rating: 0 of 5 stars

I stopped on Disk 3 of the audiobook--I felt like it was going nowhere. Yes, the Flossie was working in the glass factory that the men glassworkers had walked out on (strike for shorter work week and more pay), and, yes, her boss was Louis Tiffany.

But way too many details about the curtains in the boardinghouse's parlor and the princess-like charactier of Flossie for me to like her or care about her. Lots of details in this historical fiction and not much action.

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Friday, September 1, 2017

Review: A Share in Death

A Share in Death A Share in Death by Deborah Crombie
My rating: 0 of 5 stars

Lots of information about the place to vacation at the beginning, and the guests, but not much of a plot. Not a good choice to listen to on audio.

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Review: Gather the Daughters

Gather the Daughters Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I rarely stop reading a book because of too much incest, pica, and overall discomfort, but this dystopia was too dystopian for me to read right now. I just didn't want to know what happened next. I stopped on page 84.

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Review: The Great American Whatever

The Great American Whatever The Great American Whatever by Tim Federle
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I want to be Tim Federle's best friend and I could listen to him read his own stories for years. I was on the Odyssey committee when he won an honor for Five, Six, Seven, Nate! and I feel like this, his first young adult book, was the same kid just a bit grown up. Tim's fiction has a unique, sincere, gay kid voice that I love. And I love that now those little kids in his children's books are grown up enough to say fuck a lot in young adult novels now.

Quinn isn't coping well since he recently lost his only sister to a car accident. She was the director to his screenplays and his partner in everything. They had no secrets, right? And so now it's difficult to go to school or eat anything but pizza, or, you know, live. Told with humor and sadness, this novel is Quinn's road to living again, thanks to the help of friends. Adorable tale of first love, too, with the handsome older guy Amir, who may or may not be perfect for Quinn.

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Thursday, August 31, 2017

Review: The Sisters Chase

The Sisters Chase The Sisters Chase by Sarah Healy
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have a feeling I'll be thinking about this book a lot, because it's the kind of book with a main character you don't like. My first reaction is always to not like those books, but then I end up thinking about them more and changing my mind a bit, simply because I applaud books that make me think.

The main character, Mary, is the wild child--not wanting to stay and work at her mother's small motel, and not wanting to go to school. She's unhealthily focused on her younger sister--so much so that she skips school to take care of her. Diane, the mother, has now had two illegitimate children, and when she suddenly is out of the picture, Mary is forced to be like a mother to her younger sister Hannah.

Mary and Hannah grow no roots--they wander the country and Mary does things to make me hate her. Seriously, she's unscrupulous and kinda evil. She's beautiful, of course, so she can make men fall in love with her, and then she's just flat out evil to them.

This had the potential to be very teen friendly, but I always felt like Mary was an older woman in her thoughts and actions. It had its literary moments where I had to skim, and the expected plot twists that the reader had already guessed.

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Monday, August 28, 2017

Review: Gork, the Teenage Dragon

Gork, the Teenage Dragon Gork, the Teenage Dragon by Gabe Hudson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I think some teenagers will like this more than me! Review to come in AB4T.

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Review: The Distant Echo

The Distant Echo The Distant Echo by Val McDermid
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Listening to this audio was worth it--lovely Scottish accents! Very old school murder mystery--25 years ago barmaid Rosie was raped, murdered, and left in an old cemetery. When four drunk and high college students find her, they attempt resuscitation and rescue, but she dies, and the four and then treated as suspects for the 25 years. Now, as adults, they are being targeted by someone, and they must try to figure out who is the guilty party to save their own lives.

Lots of talking at the end to explain what happened, just like in an old-school murder mystery.

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Friday, August 18, 2017

Review: The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women

The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women by Kate Moore
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

So I'll be the dissenting vote on this popular book--I thought the writing style was horrendous. I loved the IDEA, but, whoa, the phrasing and repetitiveness drove me nuts. I listened to six disks of the audiobook and I couldn't take it anymore. And I was bored.

It sucked that this happened to these ladies, and the facts shocked me. I'm glad I learned about what happened to these defenseless workers who were at the mercy of their employers.

But I wanted to start a drinking game with certain phrases because I heard them way too many times. Also, Angela Brazil's narration didn't help things--very stilted at times.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Review: Everybody's Son

Everybody's Son Everybody's Son by Thrity Umrigar
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Left home alone for a week unsupervised, nine-year-old Anton barely escapes from his low-rent apartment. He kept waiting for his mom to come home, but she was found in a crack house, and so Anton ends up in foster care. Judge Coleman steps in. He and his wife are still grieving from the son they lost in a car crash, and fostering young Anton might be the help they need to live (and love) again.

This book REEKS of white privilege--the rich and powerful white couple takes in the poor mixed black kid in order to make sure the boy turns out "okay." Anton has to confront this when he finds out the truth about his adoption, during the same time that he's on the campaign trail for governor. Yeah, governor.

Love how the novel tackles race and privilege, and how it was a fast and easy read. But the dialogue and word choice was iffy at times, and seemed forced.

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Review: The Fourth Monkey

The Fourth Monkey The Fourth Monkey by J.D. Barker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you like serial killer thrillers, read this one! The Four Monkey Killer, 4MK, is all about the see no evil, hear no evil, say no evil, do no evil thing, and he's great at killing daughters in order to punish the fathers. His diary is pretty gruesome and interspersed throughout the rest of the novel from the point-of-view from the police detective who has been on the 4MK's case from the beginning in Chicago. Yay, a Chicago setting!

This is no great piece of literature, but it's just what I was looking for--a fast-paced, low reading level thriller with interesting characters.

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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Review: Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So raw and vulnerable to read, let alone to think about what it took to write this memoir. Hit close to home in a lot of ways, which is true for many readers, I think, judging by the ratings.

Damn, she's a great writer.

And here is what she writes about Charleston, Illinois, and Eastern Illinois University. From pages 294-295, "We were three hours from Chicago, so my blackness was less of a curiosity, more of a threat. And there were the black students on campus, the nerve of them, daring to pursue higher education. In the local newspaper, residents wrote angry letters about a new criminal element--the scourge of youthful black ambition, black joy. In my more generous moments, I tried to believe the locals were using anger to mask their fear of living in a dying town in a changing world."

I feel like I need to re-read that last sentence on a regular basis.

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Review: Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So raw and vulnerable to read, let alone to think about what it took to write this memoir. Hit close to home in a lot of ways, which is true for many readers, I think, judging by the ratings.

Damn, she's a great writer.

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Review: The Facefaker's Game

The Facefaker's Game The Facefaker's Game by Chandler J. Birch
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thoroughly enjoyable YA fantasy! Interesting world-building--magical and Victorian-ish and just a good read. Impressive debut.

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Review: Star Struck

Star Struck Star Struck by Val McDermid
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Quick and easy listen about a private investigator who becomes a bodyguard to a soap opera star in Manchester, England. Quite an enjoyable listen, good narration and production, and I enjoyed getting to know Kate Brannangan, even if this is the 6th book in a series. I'm kinda wondering if I interlibrary loaned this on mistake--why would I request #6 in a series when I haven't read the ones before? Oh, well, I still enjoyed the listen!

It was a trip back in time--CD-ROMs! bad online dating via email messages!

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Review: Borne

Borne Borne by Jeff VanderMeer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Love the plot--a future world where Rachel finds "something" and raises it to become a person. The strange piece of biotech is an unknown, but she cares for it, despite her boyfriend warning her, and the thing, Borne, grows quickly enough that it wants its own apartment in a few months. The plot was fascinating, but I was bored quite often while listening to the audiobook--lots of telling and explaining, but not much action going on, which makes for boring listening while in the car.

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Thursday, August 3, 2017

Review: Eliza and Her Monsters

Eliza and Her Monsters Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Plenty of teen angst in this one. Eliza is the author of a very successful online comic, but you wouldn't know it by looking at her. She has no friends in real life, and is quite the depressed introvert. But then a boy comes along. Of course.

I couldn't help but think of Fangirl and The Fault in Our Stars as I read this, but I know not many teens would have read both of those.

Good depiction of depression, anxiety, fandom. Includes pages from her webcomic, as well as chat/text conversations.

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Monday, July 31, 2017

Review: The Best We Could Do

The Best We Could Do The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Darn good. Read this is you loved Stitches or Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood

Review to come in SLJ AB4T.

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Review: Purgatory

Purgatory Purgatory by Ken Bruen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As much as I love Gerard Doyle, I must remember to not listen to audios of Ken Bruen's novels. Just too confusing with his way of writing. I had a hard time knowing when new sections started, and even the quotes (love the quotes from other mystery novels) were confusing because I thought they were part of the story, until I heard a title and author's name.

I do love how Bruen can turn a phrase with a few words though--it's just better read in print for me.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Review: Gwendy's Button Box

Gwendy's Button Box Gwendy's Button Box by Stephen King
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I really wanted an evil clown to jump out at the end or for the main character to accidentally blow up the world. Instead, I was treated to a subtle, mysterious read, but not the HORROR I was expecting.

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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Review: American Street

American Street American Street by Ibi Zoboi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I see why people think that this book will be discussed at the Printz table! The magical realism bits (is it still magical realism when religion is involved?????) were my favorite--without them, this book would have been too difficult for me to read. Detroit in the neighborhood of American and Joy Streets isn't an easy place to live. When Fabiola comes to live with her aunt and cousins (while her mother is detained at the airport), she doesn't quite fit in. Her American family is too loud and too street. But "Fabulous" adjusts and decides that she must do whatever it takes to bring her mother to Detroit, even if that means sucking up to her cousin's evil boyfriend or snitching to the cops. Things don't turn out well.

Loved the beautiful writing and the tales of Haiti. I couldn't help but think of In Darkness.

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Review: American Street

American Street American Street by Ibi Zoboi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I see why people think that this book will be discussed at the Printz table! The magical realism bits were my favorite--without them, this book would have been too difficult for me to read. Detroit in the neighborhood of American and Joy Streets isn't an easy place to live. When Fabiola comes to live with her aunt and cousins (while her mother is detained at the airport), she doesn't quite fit in. Her American family is too loud and too street. But "Fabulous" adjusts and decides that she must do whatever it takes to bring her mother to Detroit, even if that means sucking up to her cousin's evil boyfriend or snitching to the cops. Things don't turn out well.

Loved the beautiful writing and the tales of Haiti. I couldn't help but think of In Darkness.

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Monday, July 24, 2017

Review: The Torment Of Others

The Torment Of Others The Torment Of Others by Val McDermid
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I had to suspend belief a few more times than I would like while listening to one of these mystery thrillers. But Gerard Doyle kicked ass narrating it, of course!

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Saturday, July 22, 2017

Review: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This audio will win some awards! Beautifully told story of Eleanor and her coming of age, even if she is now in her late twenties. She's always been a bit awkward, but, hey, she deserves the right. Her story is one we've heard before, but Honeyman has created a unique and lovely voice in her main character. I laughed out loud while listening to the audio--the narrator did the funny parts fantastically!

Great book club read, but I think it has some teen appeal, too. All ages love quirky people.

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Review: Die Easy

Die Easy Die Easy by Zoë Sharp
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It's so rare that Book #10 of a series is just as good as book #1. But this series is darn good. I'm looking forward to the next one!

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Review: Die Easy

Die Easy Die Easy by Zoë Sharp
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It's so rare that Book #10 of a series is just as good as book #1. But this series is darn good. I'm looking forward to the next one!

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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Review: She Rides Shotgun

She Rides Shotgun She Rides Shotgun by Jordan Harper
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Gritty, dark, engrossing read about a smart girl caught in the crossfire between her dad and the California gang what wants to kill him. I wish these worlds didn't exist in real life.

Review to come in SLJ AB4T.

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Review: The Bloomsday Dead

The Bloomsday Dead The Bloomsday Dead by Adrian McKinty
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Once again, Adrian McKinty delivered an amazing listen, and Gerard Doyle can whisper in my ear anytime. Even if he's whispering about torture and Irish mob hits. This novel is full of both, and it kept me entertained on a cross-country roadtrip just fine!

If you like thrillers and action movies and kickass characters, give McKinty a try.

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Review: Revolution

Revolution Revolution by Piet Hein Wokke
My rating: 0 of 5 stars

Not a fan of the writing style. I stopped reading on my kindle at 23%.

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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Review: Beartown

Beartown Beartown by Fredrik Backman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a slow-going adult read about small town sports. The "small town sports" category is enough to draw me in, even if this is about hockey, a sport that I don't know too much about. This takes place in Sweden, supposedly, although it screams "Northwoods" to me, and could have been set in Minnesota or Canada or northern Wisconsin or anywhere that hockey is king.

I've read my share of small town sports stories, including two from around me: One Shot at Forever: A Small Town, an Unlikely Coach, and a Magical Baseball Season and Catch. All of them have something in common--the belief that small town sports are all that matters. I see that where I currently live, too, where softball is king. It's what girls are supposed to play. And, if you play softball in our town, you're expected to win, because, you know, the town always wins.

With these high expectations come assholes. And, like in the true tale of Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town, "good" athletes are accused of bad things and often get away with it. We're heard horror stories about it with Speak and All the Rage. And Asking For It and all the other books I've read about rape and high school students (there are a lot of them).

Beartown is expected to win in hockey. So much so that the hockey players can skip class and call their teachers "sweet cheeks" and not be punished. They can strut down the hallways and not need to worry about leaving their anger on the rink--it's okay if they explode. In this novel, we get to know Kevin, the current and future star who is sure to turn pro, Amat, the little 14-year-old son of the rink cleaning lady, and Maya, the team GM's daughter who wants to be a professional musician. The story you have read before, but the way Backman tells it is unique. The rape culture in Beartown is hard to comprehend--it's even different for a woman to have a career and be a mother at the same time.

This was a difficult read for me, but I'm glad I pushed through it. Yes, it's about hockey, but it's really a character study of the teens and their parents and the stupid business sponsors of the team. Small town sports. Gotta love the hypocrisy and the inflation of the egos.

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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Review: This Is Really Happening

This Is Really Happening This Is Really Happening by Erin Chack
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wonderful collection of short stories that make up this memoir. Almost all will make you laugh. I listened to the audio that was read by the author, and it would have been better with a professional reader, but I stuck with the production. Chack's voice is very teen-friendly and the book is full of coming-of-age moments. I laughed out loud in the car listening to the story about the menstrual cup. Trust me. It's funny!

Maybe this will receive some Morris love?

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