Mikis and the Donkey

Mikis and the Donkey

Mikis lives on the island of Corfu with his family. He spends a lot of time with his grandparents as well. One day grandpa gets a new donkey and lets Mikis name the donkey. At first he doesn’t believe Tsaki picked her own name, but soon notices how she follows Mikis like a pet. Grandpa purchased the donkey to help carry firewood down the mountain and uses her as a pack animal. Mikis protests this treatment and wants Tsaki to have a better life including a friend and new stable. This short novel gives a brief glimpse into what life in Greece is like for regular villagers. It also shows how animals are still used the same way they were many years ago. I liked the inter-generational family life shown here and how close knit the villagers are. I do think the book probably lost a bit in translation and is a bit simple, but it is still a very readable story and an enjoyable one.

Fun Home

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic

This is the story of Alison Bechdel’s childhood with a distant, closeted father and her subsequent coming out followed by the death of her father. Bechdel’s graphic memoir was fascinating and difficult in turns. Her childhood was in some ways idyllic and in others extremely hard. Her father was distant and cold and very demanding of his children, her mother seems to have taken a backseat in parenting. Neither of her parents seemed happy in the life they had chosen. Alison was also not very happy in the skin she was in. It wasn’t until she realized she was a lesbian that things seemed to settle into place. It was also at that point she found out her father had relationships with men, which explained a lot about her childhood. Soon after her father is hit by a truck on the highway. Was it an accident or suicide? Alison and her family will never know and will always wonder. It was a fascinating look at a family very different from my own. I will admit to not getting all the literary references she uses to explain her father, but then I have never read Joyce and I am not sure I ever will. I did love the fact that Alison and her father bonded over books and that Alison identified with books so much. Definitely not a book for everyone, but one that is worth reading.

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Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution

“An accessible and extremely well-written exploration of the deep waters of cosmology, astrophysics, and exobiology.”–Kirkus Reviews

Our true origins are not just human, or even terrestrial, but in fact cosmic. Drawing on recent scientific breakthroughs and the current cross-pollination among geology, biology, astrophysics, and cosmology, Origins explains the soul-stirring leaps in our understanding of the cosmos. From the first image of a galaxy birth to Spirit Rover’s exploration of Mars, to the discovery of water on one of Jupiter’s moons, coauthors Neil deGrasse Tyson and Donald Goldsmith conduct a galvanizing tour of the cosmos with clarity and exuberance

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DC Comics: Bombshells, Vol. 2: Allies

The shadow of WWII looms ever larger as the Bombshells battle the Axis Powers across the globe.

In Gotham City, a quartet of copycat BATGIRLS are doing their part to protect the home front.

In Greece, WONDER WOMAN faces a battalion of the undead, led by the villainous Baroness Paula von Gunther.

In London, STARGIRL and SUPERGIRL learn a shocking-and dangerous-family secret, while MERA encounters a monstrous threat from the sea that not even she can control.

And in Berlin, ZATANNA attempts to thwart the evil magic that’s been released into the world, while the CATWOMAN and HUNTRESS rescue a captured BATWOMAN from the clutches of the Third Reich.

But the paths of these superheroines will converge as they face their greatest challenge yet. To defeat the undead tenebrae soldiers overtaking London, they’ll have to form a Justice League of their own!

Inspired by the popular DC Collectibles line, DC COMICS: BOMBSHELLS VOL. 2: ALLIES throws the world’s finest heroines into one of the greatest battles in history!

dWritten by Marguerite Bennett (BATGIRL, EARTH 2: WORLD’S END) and featuring artists including Laura Braga (WITCHBLADE), Mirka Andolfo (CHAOS) and more, this volume collects issues #7-12

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Moonshine vol. 1

THE FIRST VOLUME OF THE NEW ON-GOING SERIES
From writer, BRIAN AZZARELLO and artist, EDUARDO RISSO — the Eisner award-winning creative team behind the crime classic, 100 Bullets — comes a brutal new series!
Set during Prohibition, and deep in the backwoods of Appalachia, MOONSHINE #1 tells the story of LOU PIRLO, a city-slick “torpedo” sent from New York City to negotiate a deal with the best moonshiner in West Virginia, one HIRAM HOLT. Lou figures it for milk run — how hard could it be to set-up moonshine shipments from a few ass-backward hillbillies? What Lou doesn’t figure on is that Holt is just as cunning as ruthless as any NYC crime boss and Lou is in way over his pin-striped head. Because not only will Holt do anything to protect his illicit booze operation, he’ll stop at nothing to protect a much darker family secret…a bloody, supernatural secret that must never see the light of day…or better still, the light of the full moon.
Volume one of MOONSHINE reunites the acclaimed creative team that defined modern crime comics with 100 Bullets…and now puts a horror-twist on a classic gangster tale!
Collects Issues 1-6

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Gwendy’s Button Box

The little town of Castle Rock, Maine has witnessed some strange events and unusual visitors over the years, but there is one story that has never been told… until now.

There are three ways up to Castle View from the town of Castle Rock: Route 117, Pleasant Road, and the Suicide Stairs. Every day in the summer of 1974 twelve-year-old Gwendy Peterson has taken the stairs, which are held by strong (if time-rusted) iron bolts and zig-zag up the cliffside.

At the top of the stairs, Gwendy catches her breath and listens to the shouts of the kids on the playground. From a bit farther away comes the chink of an aluminum bat hitting a baseball as the Senior League kids practice for the Labor Day charity game.

One day, a stranger calls to Gwendy: “Hey, girl. Come on over here for a bit. We ought to palaver, you and me.”

On a bench in the shade sits a man in black jeans, a black coat like for a suit, and a white shirt unbuttoned at the top. On his head is a small neat black hat. The time will come when Gwendy has nightmares about that hat…

Journey back to Castle Rock again in this chilling new novella by Stephen King, bestselling author of The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, and Richard Chizmar, award-winning author of A Long December. This book will be a Cemetery Dance Publications exclusive with no other editions currently planned anywhere in the world!

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Fractured

With its gracious homes and tree-lined streets, Ansley Park is one of Atlanta’s most desirable neighborhoods. But in one gleaming mansion, in a teenager’s lavish bedroom, a girl has been savagely murdered. And in the hallway, her horrified mother stands amid shattered glass, having killed her daughter’s attacker with her bare hands.

Detective Will Trent of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is here only to do a political favor; the murder site belongs to the Atlanta police. But Trent soon sees something that the cops are missing, something in the trail of blood, in a matrix of forensic evidence, and in the eyes of the shell-shocked mother. Within minutes, Trent is taking over the case — and adding another one to it. He is sure that another teenage girl is missing, and that a killer is on the loose.

Armed with only fleeting clues, teamed with a female cop who has her own personal reasons for hating him, Trent has enemies all around him — and a gnawing feeling that this case, which started in the best of homes, is cutting quick and deep through the ruins of perfect lives broken wide-open: where human demons emerge with a vengeance.

Again a very good book by Karin Slaughter.  I am really hooked on these.

In the Shadow of the Sun

In the Shadow of the Sun

Mia is on a family vacation with her dad and brother Simon in North Korea. Most families would not vacation in a country like North Korea, but dad is an aide worker and wanted to show his family where he works and the people he helps. Mia was adopted from South Korea and is enjoying the fact that she looks like everyone else while her dad and brother are the ones who stand out, just the opposite from home. Simon is moody and uninterested as he is focused on his ex-girlfriend and an incident that happened before the left. Dad seems to be keeping secrets and holding secret meetings.

Mia receives a gift from one of the government ministers they have met on their trip. Even though she is told not to open it, she does and discovers a cell phone with images from the death camps of North Korea. Soon after dad is arrested by the secret police and Mia and Simon decide to run. They are trying to make their way from the capital city of Pyongyang to the Chinese border. They are ill equipped for this journey despite the snacks in Mia’s backpack and they stick out like soar thumbs or Americans in North Korea. They must make it to China and freedom and then somehow find a way to help their dad.

This was a great adventure novel. I wasn’t sure how North Korea would be portrayed, but the author did a great job researching the country and came up with a plausible story. Mia and Simon are great characters who are dealing with a lot more than just trying to escape North Korea. I do wish their backstory would have been explained a bit sooner as that would have made Simon’s moodiness just a little more easily bearable. I especially enjoyed the interludes with North Korea characters. It was interesting to see what was happening from their perspectives and to see how they tied into the larger story.

House Arrest

House Arrest

This book blew me away. I expected to like it because it was recommended to me. I didn’t expect it to be as wonderful as it was. First it is a novel in verse which I love. Second the main character of Timothy is fantastic. Third, the family dynamics and home life of Timothy was just heart-wrenching. So much good here.

Timothy is on house arrest for a year and forced to keep a journal of his time at home. It was either that or go to juvie. Timothy stole a wallet and bought medicine for his baby brother. Levi is a very sick baby who has to have a trach in order to survive. Their dad left shortly after Levi was born and mom is doing the best she can on her own. Timothy just wanted to help and instead messed things up further. During his weekly journal entries Timothy tells the reader about life at home with sick Levi and not enough help and overworked mom. He talks about his court appointed counselor Mrs. B and his probation officer James. He tells us about his best friend down the street and how wonderful his house is full of noise and chaos and healthy people.

This story moved me to tears and made me laugh and gave me hope. It made me want to find a Timothy and be the one leaving packages of food and necessities on his doorstep. It made me want to give his mom a hug and learn sign language to communicate with Levi. This story is so real and so vibrant that it just comes off the page. It probably helped that Holt has personal experience with this type of situation. My one quibble was the end. I wanted everything to get wrapped up and to find out what happened to Timothy, Levi and their mom. The story doesn’t wrap everything up for you. You can infer what is going to happen but it is not a “disney” ending. Maybe that made it even more real.

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That Thing We Call A Heart

Shabnam Qureshi is at the end of her school career and facing a summer without her best friend Farah. Farah decided to start wearing a hajib as a declaration of her Muslim faith and she didn’t discuss it first with Shabnam. Shabnam felt left out and hurt that Farah would take this big step and not at least tell her about it. Didn’t she realize all the negative attention wearing a hajib would cause? Why didn’t Farah just want to fit in like Shabnam did?
This book is a coming of age book about two young Muslim women who are struggling to find themselves and their identity in a world that wants nothing more than to suppress who they are. I learned about the history of the Partition of India which displaced between ten and twelve million people and resulted in thousands of deaths. I had never heard of this tragic historic event and while it was talked of only a little, it made me research to find out more about it.
Overall this book was a good read and I learned a little about the culture of the Pakistani people. There were sometimes when I wished it would have delved a little deeper into the cultural aspects of the families but its primary focus was on the girls and their issues as they come of age. The developing and evolving relationship of Shabnam and Farah is the centerpiece of this story and it is a wonderful portrayal of of two young strong women who can overcome almost any obstacle as long as they stay loyal to each other.

eden

Eden Summer

Jess is concerned when she shows up on the first day of school to discover that her best friend, Eden, is missing.  This starts the tale of secrets, betrayals, and re-living the past summer in an attempt to find Eden before it’s too late.

This was a suspenseful book toggling between the present and flashbacks to help the reader get a good picture of the intense friendship between Jess and Eden.  Jess does everything in her power to find her friend including backtracking through the country side of England looking for her and questioning all that they have been through.  This book was addictive.

Descendents

Descendants by Rico Green

Descendants features the offspring of famous Disney characters, both the good and the evil.  We have Ben the son of Beauty (aka Belle) and her husband The Beast.  Ben is awaiting his coronation and has an important proclamation to make.   He wants to give the descendants of the villains a chance.  They live on another island, and Ben has selected Maleficient’s daughter Mal, Cruella’s Carlos son,  the 13th Fairie’s daughter Evie, and Jafar’s son Carlos. Most of the citizens on the good island are critical of Ben’s decision and are just waiting for the 4 adolescents to fail.  The evil parent’s have tasked the children to steal the powerful  wand that the Good Fairy Godmother wields so as to unleash the villains onto the society where good now rules.  Although the characters are caricatures, the plot line had some interesting twists and surprises.

The Emperor's Ostrich

The Emperor’s Ostrich

Begonia has lost her cow Alfalfa. Alfalfa wondered off and seems to keep getting further and further ahead of Begonia. Along her journey Begonia is given a magical map by the Master Mapmaker, a pot of mustard from Madame Mustard-Maker and a bell and scarf from the Seller of Many Things. She also meets a young woman with a baby who gives her a hairpin and a woodcutter who gives her nothing. Then she meets Key, a young man far from home who is ready and willing to help a damsel in distress. Together Begonia and Key search for missing Alfalfa who they find with a strange man and an ostrich. It seems Alfalfa has fallen in love with the ostrich and won’t be parted. The stranger, wearing silk pajamas and not seeming to know how to take care of himself, tries to convince Begonia and Key to help him. Then he is accused of kidnapping and killing the emperor and taken away to the dungeons. It is up to Begonia and Key to set things right.

I don’t know if there could be a more charming book out there. I adored Julie Berry’s new book. It is so different from her others with a much more light-hearted tone. However, there is a lot going on and it all seems to tie together at the end. The missing Alfalfa is the heart of this story as all the characters come together around her. Everyone seems to learn a bit about themselves and the world around them on this quest to find a missing cow and a missing emperor. The best part might be the cow/ostrich romance never before seen in literature. It is a story filled with heart and romance and ancestor spirits and an emperor learning about his people and evil usurpers and families coming together. I would highly recommend it.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley.

Ash and Quill

Ash and Quill

In this third installment of The Great Library series, our group has escaped the burning of London only to be captured in Burner-city Philadelphia. In order to stay alive, Thomas and Jess have agreed to build the printing press for the burners while the others translate the archived books stolen from London. Philadelphia is a city under siege and has been for 100 years. The people do not have much in the way of supplies or food, but they are holding out against the Library’s armies that surround the walls. Jess worries about his companions constantly, especially Morgan who is using her Obscurist powers to find a way out of the city. Jess will have to call on his smuggler family in order to get them out and it has unexpected and devastating consequences.

I was feeling a bit iffy about this series after the last book, but this one redeems. The action is pretty much nonstop between Philadelphia and the Brightwell estate. There is less focus on the romantic pairings and more focus on their mission to bring down the Library. My real quibble with this story was the part at the end with the Brightwells. In Philadelphia, everyone is working together toward a single goal. Everyone has their role to play and everyone knows what is going on. Suddenly, once they have escaped Philadelphia things change and Jess is playing a game no one else is aware of, but he is playing it with their lives. At this point in the series I found this a bit tiresome. Everyone knows what is at stake and should have been involved in the decision-making process. The fact that Jess keeps most of the group in the dark and gambles with everyone’s lives without their knowledge didn’t make sense in the overall scheme of things. One would think they would be more helpful if they knew what was expected of them and where things were going. Other than that, I thought this was an excellent book to move the series along. I can’t wait to see what happens in the next volume.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley.

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Love Letters to the Dead

It started out as a school assignment for English class when her teacher asks the students to compose a letter to a dead person. Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain, the late front man for the grunge rock group, Nirvana, her sister’s favorite band. Kurt had died young just as her sister had done. Before she knows it, Laurel  has filled her spiral notebook with letters to a dozen people, all well-known, who have died before their time. In her letters Laurel haltingly explains what happened when May died and about her life after, starting high school, making new friends, her first boyfriend, and her relationship with her divorced parents. But it’s only when  Laurel confronts what happened to herself around the time of May’s death that she can begin to heal.

Author Ava Dellaira writes with exquisite pain and tenderness the journey one young girl makes through grief and ultimately to self-discovery.

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St. Dale

Sharyn McCrumb’s novel St. Dale is a hilarious look into the heart of ordinary Americans and their penchant for creating almost mythical legends out of those celebrity figures they hold most dear–Elvis , Princess Diana, and in this case,  race car driver Dale Earnhardt. A year and a half after the untimely death of the legendary driver, a group of  unlikely Earnhardt fans set out on a memorial pilgrimage to all the famous racetracks across the south where Earnhardt once raced his famous #3.  Infused with wit and humor, McCrumb follows the lives of these racing fans and how Earnhardt touches their lives in remarkable ways. It is a journey of self-discovery for each of them that delves deep into the heart of America.

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Beyond Reach

Sara Linton–resident medical examiner/pediatrician in Grant County, Georgia, –has plenty of hardship to deal with, including defending herself in a heartbreaking malpractice suit. So when her husband, Police chief Jeffery Tolliver, learns that his friend and coworker detective Lena Adams has been arrested for murder and needs Sara’s help, she is not sure she can handle the pressure of it all.

But soon Sara and Jeffery are sitting through evidence, peeling back the layers of a mystery that grows darker by the day–until an intricate web of betrayal and vengeance begins to unravel. And suddenly the lives of Sara, Lena, and Jeffery are hanging by the slenderest of threads.

 

Only thing I can say is “WOW”.  Did not see that ending coming at all.         Not until the last page but don’t look at the end before reading the book, it will spoil it for you.       I couldn’t image what was in store for the next book.

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Triptych

In the city of Atlanta, women are dying—at the hands of a killer who signs his work with a single, chilling act of mutilation. Leaving behind enough evidence to fuel a frenzied police hunt, this cunning madman is bringing together dozens of lives, crossing the boundaries of wealth and race. And the people who are chasing him must cross those boundaries too. Among them is Michael Ormewood, a veteran detective whose marriage is hanging by a thread—and whose arrogance and explosive temper are threatening his career. And Angie Polaski, a beautiful vice cop who was once Michael’s lover before she became his enemy.

But another player has entered the game: a loser ex-con who has stumbled upon the killer’s trail in the most coincidental of ways—someone who may be the key to breaking the case wide open…

 

Each book is filled with lots of surprises.    If you love a thriller this is the series for you.      However, you must read them in order.  Unlike other series I have read, the main story line just continues with each new book.