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…

Big Mushy Happy Lump
Book Review / July 29, 2017

Title: Big Mushy Happy Lump Series: Sarah Scribbles, #2 Author: Sarah Andersen Genre: Comic Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing Release Date: March 7th, 2017 Format: eARC Pages: 132 Source: NetGalley Illustrator: Sarah Andersen Sarah Andersen’s hugely popular, world-famous Sarah’s Scribbles comics are for those of us who boast bookstore-ready bodies and Netflix-ready hair, who are always down for all-night reading-in-bed parties and extremely exclusive after-hour one-person music festivals.  In addition to the most recent Sarah’s Scribbles fan favorites and dozens of all-new comics, this volume contains illustrated personal essays on Sarah’s real-life experiences with anxiety, career, relationships and other adulthood challenges that will remind readers of Allie Brosh’s Hyperbole and a Half and Jenny Lawson’s Let’s Pretend This Never Happened. The same uniquely frank, real, yet humorous and uplifting tone that makes Sarah’s Scribbles so relatable blooms beautifully in this new longer form. (via Goodreads) GoodreadsAmazon   I love Sarah’s Scribbles. Sarah Andersen has been doodling the thoughts of everyone maturing as a late Gen-X’er/early-millennial since 2011. Starting as a web comic, Andersen captures vignettes of life focused around a singular female protagonist who more-or-less wakes up one day to realize she needs to Adult. Properly Adult. And she just is NOT prepared for this. Not only is…

Dead End in Norvelt
Book Review / July 22, 2017

Title: Dead End in Norvelt Series: Norvelt, #1 Author: Jack Gantos Genre: Historical Fiction Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux Release Date: September 13th, 2011 Format: Audiobook Pages: 341 Source: Library Dead End in Norvelt is the winner of the 2012 Newbery Medal for the year’s best contribution to children’s literature and the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction! Melding the entirely true and the wildly fictional, Dead End in Norvelt is a novel about an incredible two months for a kid named Jack Gantos, whose plans for vacation excitement are shot down when he is “grounded for life” by his feuding parents, and whose nose spews bad blood at every little shock he gets.  But plenty of excitement (and shocks) are coming Jack’s way once his mom loans him out to help a feisty old neighbor with a most unusual chore—typewriting obituaries filled with stories about the people who founded his Utopian town. As one obituary leads to another, Jack is launched on a strange adventure involving molten wax, Eleanor Roosevelt, twisted promises, a homemade airplane, Girl Scout cookies, a man on a trike, a dancing plague, voices from the past, Hells Angels . . . and possibly murder. Endlessly surprising, this sly, sharp-edged narrative is the author at his…

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…

Poetry on Record: 98 Poets Read Their Work
Book Review / May 31, 2017

Title: Poetry on Record: 98 Poets Read Their Work (1888-2006) Genre: Poetry Publisher: Shout! Factory Release Date: April 18th, 2006 Format: Audiobook Pages: 68 Source: Library Editor: Rebekah Presson Mosby Poetry On Record: 98 Poets Read Their Work (1888-2006) is an engrossing collection of poems read by the people who wrote them, from the dawn of sound recording to the current day. Over the course of four CDs and an info-packed book, it tells the story of the past 120 years of poetry in English, from Romanticism (Dylan Thomas) to Modernism (T.S. Eliot), from the Harlem Renaissance (Langston Hughes) to Black Arts (Amiri Baraka), from rhyme and meter (Alfred, Lord Tennyson) to free verse (Adrienne Rich), and beyond. Equally important, it allows listeners to understand exactly how the poets intended their poems to be read aloud. Poetry On Record is the most comprehensive collection of its kind and is a must-have for any fan of poetry, or for anyone who wants an expertly chosen overview as a starting point. (via Goodreads) GoodreadsAmazon Growing up, I did not have a particularly positive experience with poetry. It was challenging. I was frustrated with the way it was taught and how I was…

Their Eyes Were Watching God
Book Review / May 8, 2017

Title: Their Eyes Were Watching God Author: Zora Neale Hurston Genre: Classic Publisher: Harper Perennial Modern Classics Release Date: November 23rd, 2004 Format: Audiobook Pages: 237 Source: Library; Blogger Recommendation First Published: 1937 One of the most important works of twentieth-century American literature, Zora Neale Hurston’s beloved 1937 classic, Their Eyes Were Watching God, is an enduring Southern love story sparkling with wit, beauty, and heartfelt wisdom. Told in the captivating voice of a woman who refuses to live in sorrow, bitterness, fear, or foolish romantic dreams, it is the story of fair-skinned, fiercely independent Janie Crawford, and her evolving selfhood through three marriages and a life marked by poverty, trials, and purpose.  A true literary wonder, Hurston’s masterwork remains as relevant and affecting today as when it was first published – perhaps the most widely read and highly regarded novel in the entire canon of African American literature. (via Goodreads) GoodreadsAmazon   Wow! A HUGE thank you to Melanie @ Grab the Lapels for recommending not only this book but specifically the audiobook to me!  Winner of the Audie Award for Solo Narration – Female in 2001, listening to Ruby Dee recite Their Eyes Were Watching God was incredibly powerful. I love this book…

1984
Book Review / March 31, 2017

Title: 1984 Author: George Orwell Genre: Speculative Fiction Publisher: Plume Release Date: 2009 Format: Hardback Pages: 294 Source: Library First Published: June 8th, 1949 Nineteen Eighty-Four (mostly written 1984) is a 1948 dystopian fiction written by George Orwell about a society ruled by an oligarchical dictatorship. The Oceanian province of Airstrip One is a world of perpetual war, pervasive government surveillance, and incessant public mind control. Oceania is ruled by a political party called simply The Party. The individual is always subordinated to the state, and it is in part this philosophy which allows the Party to manipulate and control humanity. In the Ministry of Truth, protagonist Winston Smith is a civil servant responsible for perpetuating the Party’s propaganda by revising historical records to render the Party omniscient and always correct, yet his meager existence disillusions him to the point of seeking rebellion against Big Brother.  (via Goodreads) GoodreadsAmazon   It’s obvious why 1984 is considered classic literature. Originally published in 1949, Orwell’s story projects a future for post-war England right at the start of the Cold War. A 1950’s atomic war transformed the globe and now is divided into 3 super-countries which control their population through shortages, surveillance, torture,…

A Darker Shade of Magic
Book Review / March 21, 2017

Title: A Darker Shade of Magic Series: Shades of Magic, #1 Author: V.E. Schwab Genre: Fantasy Publisher: Tor Books Release Date: February 24th, 2015 Format: Hardcover Pages: 400 Source: Library Kell is one of the last Antari, a rare magician who can travel between parallel worlds: hopping from Grey London — dirty, boring, lacking magic, and ruled by mad King George — to Red London — where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire — to White London — ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne, where people fight to control magic, and the magic fights back — and back, but never Black London, because traveling to Black London is forbidden and no one speaks of it now. Officially, Kell is the personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see, and it is this dangerous hobby that sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves…

Golden Son
Book Review / March 4, 2017

Title: Golden Son Series: Red Rising, #2 Author: Pierce Brown Genre: Science Fiction Publisher: Del Rey Release Date: January 6th, 2015 Format: eBook Pages: 430 Source: Owned As a Red, Darrow grew up working the mines deep beneath the surface of Mars, enduring backbreaking labor while dreaming of the better future he was building for his descendants. But the Society he faithfully served was built on lies. Darrow’s kind have been betrayed and denied by their elitist masters, the Golds—and their only path to liberation is revolution. And so Darrow sacrifices himself in the name of the greater good for which Eo, his true love and inspiration, laid down her own life. He becomes a Gold, infiltrating their privileged realm so that he can destroy it from within. A lamb among wolves in a cruel world, Darrow finds friendship, respect, and even love—but also the wrath of powerful rivals. To wage and win the war that will change humankind’s destiny, Darrow must confront the treachery arrayed against him, overcome his all-too-human desire for retribution—and strive not for violent revolt but a hopeful rebirth. Though the road ahead is fraught with danger and deceit, Darrow must choose to follow Eo’s principles…

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…

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