The Best We Could Do
Book Review / August 12, 2017

Title: The Best We Could Do Author: Thi Bui Genre: Graphic Memoir Publisher: Abrams ComicArts Release Date: March 7th, 2017 Format: eBook Pages: 330 Source: NetGalley Illustrator: Thi Bui An intimate and poignant graphic novel portraying one family’s journey from war-torn Vietnam from debut author Thi Bui. This beautifully illustrated and emotional story is an evocative memoir about the search for a better future and a longing for the past. Exploring the anguish of immigration and the lasting effects that displacement has on a child and her family, Bui documents the story of her family’s daring escape after the fall of South Vietnam in the 1970s, and the difficulties they faced building new lives for themselves. At the heart of Bui’s story is a universal struggle: While adjusting to life as a first-time mother, she ultimately discovers what it means to be a parent—the endless sacrifices, the unnoticed gestures, and the depths of unspoken love. Despite how impossible it seems to take on the simultaneous roles of both parent and child, Bui pushes through. With haunting, poetic writing and breathtaking art, she examines the strength of family, the importance of identity, and the meaning of home. In what Pulitzer Prize–winning…

The Underground Railroad
Book Review / August 9, 2017

Title: The Underground Railroad Author: Colson Whitehead Genre: Historical Fiction Publisher: Doubleday Release Date: August 2nd, 2016 Format: Audiobook Pages: 306 Source: Library Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hellish for all the slaves but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood – where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned and, though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted. In Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor – engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven – but the city’s placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. Even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom. As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the unique terrors…

Fahrenheit 451
Book Review / July 5, 2017

Title: Fahrenheit 451 Author: Ray Bradbury Genre: Speculative Fiction Publisher: Simon and Schuster Release Date: June 2012 Format: Hardback Pages: 249 Source: Library First Published: 1953 Sixty years after its publication, Ray Bradbury’s internationally acclaimed novel Fahrenheit 451 stands as a classic of world literature set in a bleak, dystopian future. Today its message has grown more relevant than ever before. “Fahrenheit 451- The temperature at which book paper catches fire and burns.” Guy Montag is a fireman. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden. Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television “family.” But when he meets an eccentric young neighbor, Clarisse, who introduces him to a past where people didn’t live in fear and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas in books instead of the mindless chatter of television, Montag begins to question everything he has ever known. The sixtieth-anniversary edition commemorates Ray Bradbury’s masterpiece with a new introduction by Neil Gaiman; personal essays on the genesis of the novel by…

The Vanishing Throne
Book Review / June 8, 2017

Title: The Vanishing Throne Series: The Falconer, #2 Author: Elizabeth May Genre: Fantasy Publisher: Chronicle Books Release Date: June 21st, 2016 Format: Hardback Pages: 458 Source: Library First Published: November 19th, 2015 Everything she loved is gone. Trapped. Aileana Kameron, the Falconer, disappeared through the fae portal she was trying to close forever. Now she wakes in an alien world of mirrors, magic, and deception—a prisoner of the evil fae Lonnrach, who has a desperate and deadly plan for his new captive. Tortured. Time after agonizing time Lonnrach steals Aileana’s memories, searching for knowledge to save his world. Just when she’s about to lose all hope, Aileana is rescued by an unexpected ally and returns home, only to confront a terrifying truth. The city of Edinburgh is now an unrecognizable wasteland. And Aileana knows the devastation is all her fault. Transformed. The few human survivors are living in an underground colony, in an uneasy truce with a remnant of the fae. It is a fragile alliance, but an even greater danger awaits: the human and fae worlds may disappear forever. Only Aileana can save both worlds, but in order to do so she must awaken her latent Falconer powers. And the price of…

The Falconer
Book Review / May 26, 2017

Title: The Falconer Series: The Falconer, #1 Author: Elizabeth May Genre: Fantasy Publisher: Chronicle Books Release Date: May 6th, 2014 Format: eBook Pages: 378 Source: Library First Published: September 19th, 2013 She’s a stunner. Edinburgh, 1844. Eighteen-year-old Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, has everything a girl could dream of: brains, charm, wealth, a title—and drop-dead beauty. She’s a liar. But Aileana only looks the part of an aristocratic young lady. she’s leading a double life: She has a rare ability to sense the sìthíchean—the faery race obsessed with slaughtering humans—and, with the aid of a mysterious mentor, has spent the year since her mother died learning how to kill them. She’s a murderer. Now Aileana is dedicated to slaying the fae before they take innocent lives. With her knack for inventing ingenious tools and weapons—from flying machines to detonators to lightning pistols—ruthless Aileana has one goal: Destroy the faery who destroyed her mother. She’s a Falconer. The last in a line of female warriors born with a gift for hunting and killing the fae, Aileana is the sole hope of preventing a powerful faery population from massacring all of humanity. Suddenly, her quest is a lot more…

Mom & Me & Mom
Book Review / February 23, 2017

Title: Mom & Me & Mom Series: Maya Angelou's Autobiographies, #7 Author: Maya Angelou Genre: Memoir Publisher: Random House Release Date: April 2nd, 2013 Format: Audiobook Pages: 201 Source: Library First Published: January 1st, 2013 The story of Maya Angelou’s extraordinary life has been chronicled in her multiple bestselling autobiographies. But now, at last, the legendary author shares the deepest personal story of her life: her relationship with her mother. For the first time, Angelou reveals the triumphs and struggles of being the daughter of Vivian Baxter, an indomitable spirit whose petite size belied her larger-than-life presence—a presence absent during much of Angelou’s early life. When her marriage began to crumble, Vivian famously sent three-year-old Maya and her older brother away from their California home to live with their grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas. The subsequent feelings of abandonment stayed with Angelou for years, but their reunion, a decade later, began a story that has never before been told. In Mom & Me & Mom, Angelou dramatizes her years reconciling with the mother she preferred to simply call “Lady,” revealing the profound moments that shifted the balance of love and respect between them. Delving into one of her life’s most rich, rewarding,…

Steelheart
Book Review / February 20, 2017

Title: Steelheart Series: The Reckoners, #1 Author: Brandon Sanderson Genre: Science Fiction Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers Release Date: September 24th, 2013 Format: eBook Pages: 384 Source: Library   Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics. But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his will. Nobody fights the Epics…nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them. And David wants in. He wants Steelheart — the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David’s father. For years, like the Reckoners, David’s been studying, and planning — and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience. He’s seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge. (via Goodreads) GoodreadsAmazon   Brandon Sanderson is a powerhouse of science fiction and fantasy writing. He has published over thirty novels in his 41 years of life and continues to write more and more and more. He has announcements for…

Jazz Day: The Making of a Photograph
Book Review / February 6, 2017

Title: Jazz Day: The Making of a Photograph Author: Roxane Orgill Genre: Poetry Publisher: Candlewick Press Release Date: March 6th, 2016 Format: Hardback Pages: 66 Source: Library Illustrator: Francis Vallejo What happens when you invite as many jazz musicians as you can to pose for a photo in 1950s Harlem? Playful verse and glorious artwork capture an iconic moment for American jazz. When Esquire magazine planned an issue to salute the American jazz scene in 1958, graphic designer Art Kane pitched a crazy idea: how about gathering a group of beloved jazz musicians and photographing them? He didn’t own a good camera, didn’t know if any musicians would show up, and insisted on setting up the shoot in front of a Harlem brownstone. Could he pull it off? In a captivating collection of poems, Roxane Orgill steps into the frame of Harlem 1958, bringing to life the musicians’ mischief and quirks, their memorable style, and the vivacious atmosphere of a Harlem block full of kids on a hot summer’s day. Francis Vallejo’s vibrant, detailed, and wonderfully expressive paintings do loving justice to the larger-than-life quality of jazz musicians of the era. Includes bios of several of the fifty-seven musicians, an author’s note, sources, a…

Bridget Jones’s Diary
Book Review / January 31, 2017

Title: Bridget Jones's Diary Series: Bridget Jones, #1 Author: Helen Fielding Genre: Retelling Publisher: Viking Adult Release Date: July 1st, 1998 Format: Hardcover Pages: 288 Source: Library First Published: 1996 “130 lbs. (how is it possible to put on 4 pounds overnight? Could flesh have somehow solidified becoming denser and heavier (repulsive, horrifying notion)); alcohol units 2 (excellent) cigarettes 21 (poor but will give up totally tomorrow); number of correct lottery numbers 2 (better, but nevertheless useless)?” This laugh-out-loud chronicle charts a year in the life of Bridget Jones, a single girl on a permanent, doomed quest for self-improvement–in which she resolves to: visit the gym three times a week not merely to buy a sandwich, form a functional relationship with a responsible adult, and not fall for any of the following: misogynists, megalomaniacs, adulterers, workaholics, chauvinists or perverts. And learn to program the VCR. Caught between her Singleton friends, who are all convinced they will end up dying alone and found three weeks later half-eaten by an Alsatian, and the Smug Marrieds, whose dinner parties offer ever-new opportunities for humiliation, Bridget struggles to keep her life on an even keel (or at least afloat). Through it all, she will…

Akata Witch
Book Review / January 12, 2017

Title: Akata Witch Series: Akata Witch, #1 Author: Nnedi Okorafor Genre: Fantasy Publisher: Viking Children's Release Date: April 14th, 2011 Format: eBook Pages: 369 Source: Library Twelve-year-old Sunny lives in Nigeria, but she was born American. Her features are African, but she’s albino. She’s a terrific athlete, but can’t go out into the sun to play soccer. There seems to be no place where she fits. And then she discovers something amazing-she is a “free agent,” with latent magical power. Soon she’s part of a quartet of magic students, studying the visible and invisible, learning to change reality. But will it be enough to help them when they are asked to catch a career criminal who knows magic too? (via Goodreads) GoodreadsAmazon   A fantasy novel about an albino girl in Nigeria who, on the cusp of adolescence, discovers she is a witch and works to save the world with her newly found best friends. On the surface, Akata Witch sounds like it will be ripe with predictability and poorly represented characters filling tropes. But it is so much more than that. Prejudice begets prejudice, you see. Knowledge does not always evolve into wisdom. Sunny is twelve-years-old and can’t seem…

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