I have read almost every Chuck book over the years, but this is the cream that's risen to the top since my last big favorite, Doomed.
Written in a Welsh accent by an American produces killer fun in Palahniuk's long-awaited latest novel. A wonderfully dysfunctional family, all with psychopathic tendancies and oh-so-many peculiarities, drives this narrative. A pair of brothers are being prepped to take the helm, but the contract killings (house workers don't seem to last too long around here) and a mother permanently subdued by opiates make things complicated. Filled with dark laughter and gruesome intrigue, this book isn't for the ailing or squeamish.
One of my favorite parts was how they deadpanned Richard-Attenbourough-narration without stepping in to give animals a hand when they were in peril. Perhaps alluding to similarities of the family.
Give this one a try if you are ready for a twisted look on your face while reading it.
This was one beautiful story about a badass mountain lion trying to make his way through his increasingly disappearing fire-threatened habitat in the Hollywood Hills. This fierce kitty might just change your outlook on life.
I decided it should be the next Booker Prize-winner at only 34 pages in, and with page numbers in the lower corners instead of the top, it's taking page-layout to a super classy level.
Since Hoke slaps the bees knees out from under you and beats you into being a human, I suggest acquiring a milkshake and snuggling with a cat (it doesn't have to be yours - I borrowed one just for this occasion) while finishing this tasty morsel. As with The Sellout by Paul Beatty, sit down. You may collapse during said reading.
This is an animal you better not just wanna dance with, you best be ready for a breakneck jitterbug. I had to go back and read several passages multiple times to think about the humanity spoken in the words. Not for the faint of heart.
If you like heavy metal, coming of age stories, or awesome subcultures, this is the book you have been waiting for. John Wray has brought me right back to my childhood with all the trappings of running wild, when away from our parent’s gaze. I spent my time in the backwoods of Michigan, and this takes place in the backwoods of Florida. It's the heyday of the shift from glam/hair metal to metal of a darker, harder, and more extreme kind.We follow three friends navigating all the pitfalls and pains that come with growing up. Kira, Kip, and Leslie bounce around the world on their journey through the wonderfully weird world of heavy metal. Is there drug use? Yes. Are there bullys? Yes. Struggles with gender? Yes. And at the center of the friendship is a will-they-or-won’t-they romance. Every issue feels more important and dire than the next, and you won't be able to stop asking yourself whether or not they will all make it out alive.I’ve been trying to come up with some comparisons to this title, and Trainspotting, Hairstyles of the Damned, and the Taqwacores come to mind. It's great for anyone looking for a story set in a world they have never experienced or maybe want to revisit. Perhaps you are growing up right now and want a story of how you feel. Gone to the Wolves should satiate any of those desires. At the core of the book, what is really real? How real are you? And how real do you perceive yourself to be?
Wow. This was a lovely, existential, and wonderful surprise; as well as a meditation on expectations and perception. Prince in a Pastry Shop is a sweetly illustrated story of nothing in particular other than how we may enjoy or may not enjoy life in general. I normally am not a fan of the cutesy or the nice. This one even makes me want to finally read The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse. While I will tell you nothing about it's existential plotline, I will tell you how it made me feel.The only requirement is that you must be mindfully in the present moment. Thinking about the future, would take away from the joy I can experience at this very moment. And if I am with a friend, but thinking about the future, aren't I robbing my friend of the joy of experiencing this moment as well? While this is one of the stranger reviews I have ever written, I implore you to give this little book a try. Take your time. Soak in every sentence and illustration. Experience "now." You can also experience this book "later." Is one better than the other? Is a memory better than a dream? Crawl down the rabbit hole and explore some absurd preciousness.
Kingsolver has a beautiful and wonderful writing style and paints a picture of the problematic south with precision and vibrance. Demon’s home life is no picnic. His mother has a drug habit that lands her in and out of rehab bouncing from one place to the next. His mother’s “man” doesn't seem to care much for Demon or for taking care of him. Demon's compelling story has him shuttling between so many different situations, and you'll find yourself rooting for him during the bad times, and cheering for him during the good. There were moments when I sped up my reading to power through situations I knew were going sideways. No matter what, I kept coming back to just how vivid and elegant the writing was. You can't help but follow Demon through his hardships and victories the way you would if you knew him in real life.
Some of you may already know Matthew Desmond from his Pulitzer Prize-winning book Evicted: Poverty and Profit in an American City. I think he could win again with this one - especially if they scored on footnotes alone! Desmond looks at poverty from just about every angle he can come up with. While reading this, it became clear that while we have the means to lift many for our brothers and sisters out of poverty, we become unwilling because we think it will mean we have to sacrifice our own rung on the economic ladder. The failure of our government to implement programs - even when they are funded- was appalling. Mississippi politicians, for example, spent over $70 million in welfare funds on things like Brett Farve live motivational speeches (clocking in at $1.1 million) that he never actually gave. It seems not be a question of, "Do we have the money?," but of, "Where is the money being spent?" This book is enlightening and disturbing all at the same time. It reminds me of another Pulitzer prize winner’s book, Jane Mayer's Dark Money, which is about where the money in political contributions comes from, gets spent on, and the sheer magnitude of a bribery industry. I think this book is incredibly important if for nothing else than stirring up our compassion and empathy. Not to mention, seeing what we are voting for and how funds are truly being used.
Who hasn't wondered what the inner workings of hell are like? I know I have! This book focuses primarily on what is described as the “Deals Department.” From what I understand, when we are backed into a corner and are asking for help, a solution may be offered. It just might come with some kind of caveat if the folks in hell are the ones facilitating the deal.
Peyote Trip has worked his way up to the fifth floor and is doing quite well for himself in the Deals Department. He is about to close a deal on an old-money family that will net him a set (5 different deals, or souls if you will) of Harrisons. Out of left field, a new employee moves into his department and throws a wrench into whatever plan Peyote has - that he is keeping from us. Meanwhile on earth, there are too many secrets and unknowns among the Harrison family to count, and they seem to be magnifying as their month at the summer house goes on. Additionally, a strange new girl has inserted herself into the family, stirring up all kinds of questions - the kind that usually go unasked from all members of the family. No one wants their particular secret coming out.
When I picked up this book, I thought it was going to be a quick, fun, zany read. It is that, but so much more. There are so many layers to this story. I could see a lot of mystery fans eating this book up as well. There are puzzles that we keep acquiring pieces to as the story moves forward. Everything happens with a bit of humor as well, which comes just as things are getting a bit serious and dark. I would recommend this for fans of black comedy, mystery tales, or action-packed, edge-of-your-seat style reads. Pro tip: always carry about 15 pens in hell; you always have to try a few before one finally works.
Clocking in at just 92 pages, Claire Keegan's wonderful novel is brimming with heart. Comparable to her Small Things Like These, (longlisted for the Booker Prize) and set in Ireland, a child whose parents are having a hard go of things is dropped off with relatives to ease some of her parents worries for the time being. This is a story of being simultaneously happy but sad, of new introductions (like a sibling on the way) while longing for old times, and of learning that sometimes roads may take an unexpected turn.
What I loved about Small Things Like These is similarly ingrained in this story: her perfect analogies for things I often can’t put into words. Keegan wields her pen as if it were a paintbrush, illustrating humanity as a picture so the reader can fully comprehend our condition. Please give this a shot if you are questioning the world around you. This little girl is a great inspiration, walking firmly forward in life with what seems no fear.
Can you imagine being too scared to collect your daily meal of berries from the forest for fear a wolf might eat you all up? Welcome to Bellwether Riggwelter's life. His plan to hoodwink the pack? Fashion himself a wolf suit, and shop the forest’s many paths uninterrupted by its abundant predators. They'd love nothing more than to sink their long, sharp claws and big, terrible teeth into his fluffy buns. Bellwether creates his own wolf suit to throw these diabolical creatures off of his track. His plan works so well, he finds himself at a wolf gathering to dance, and howl, and growl at the full moon, but his suit is beginning to unravel... along with the story that he has told the other “wolves."
I will not be giving the ending away, but it ends well. While this story is suspenseful, it won’t keep you up at night. It's a great way to talk with kids about why people may act like something they are not in order to protect themselves. I recommend this for all lovers of fairy tales, suspenseful stories, and of course folks that like dressing up as their enemies.
Get ready for fun for the whole family. Some of my favorite games as a growing boy were Candyland and Chutes and Ladders. This is a similarly styled game. Roll a die, move that number of spaces, and see where you land! If you land on a cat paw, draw a cat card, complete the directions, and you get to move the given amount of spaces. Some of the things you may have to do are meow, knock something off the table, or clean your face like a cat. Whoever gets to the finish line first wins.
Another super cool thing about this game is that it is made from recycled materials and vegetable inks. They also use wood and avoid plastic as much as possible. Still another super awesome feature is that the direction cards come in English, Spanish, and French. So you can even dabble in a foreign language while playing. I have attempted to learn different languages before, but I have not been successful. Finally, Catventures could be my saving grace. The recommended age is 4+. Oh also, you get to go first if you were the most recent to pet a cat at the table!
— Alex Ness
First things first: if you haven't read Johnson’s Feather Thief, please cease reading this review, purchase it, read it, and then come finish reading this. You'll want this one next.
I do not read anything historical unless it is directly tied to a of social issue or politics, but Johnson has a way of making history fun. He can make you the life of the party, like me. You'll be drawn in and get lost in his wonderful writing about everything from racism to environmental recklessness and fears of unknown people to "regular Joes." When large numbers of people living in the Texas gulf region in the 1970s grew ill, the cause was directly linked to greedy industry-skirting regulations. However, the majority of white fishermen in the area were convinced it had something to do with “the other,” Vietnamese fishermen. Before long, someone was shot, and the KKK of Texas flocked in to begin harassing the local immigrant fishing communities. Like I said, I enjoy learning about all kinds of social and political struggles through time, but I had never come across this story until now.
Johnson is a master of blending all facets of a tale together, while adding supplemental history. This book might be nonfiction., but it reads like an edge-of-your-seat thriller. Think: spy novel meets undercover journalism. Do yourself a favor and pick up both of Johnson's books. Enjoy them on one of these fleeting days of summer.
I love the tone of this one. It definitely has something to do with the reader as well, John Pirhalla. He has a nonchalant way of portraying our main character and grew on me after a disconcerting beginning moment. Our main character, Will Bear is definitely a good guy, even thought he's never paid taxes. For all intents and purposes he's a very hard man to find. He keeps to himself unless a job comes up. Under various aliases and a bit of LSD to calm his mind, he and his dog, Flip travel around the country in their camper van "taking care" of people. When a disturbing phonecall triggers some of his fears of being "found," his mind gets muddled, and our story gets darker and darker. The feel of this title is hallucinatory and matter of fact; very noir, but also bordering on fantasy. It feels like a starker journey into the "American Dream," so lovingly painted by Hunter S. Thompson over 50 years ago. Please my friends, I implore you to jump in the van, take the ride and see if you are the same on the other side.
What a fascinating book to listen to! Looking back on roughly three decades coined, "The Troubles," in Ireland, I could see the resemblances to the gang warfare we have here in the states. I don’t understand much about war, other than most seem to be over resources or religion, and the Northern Ireland Conflict has always been a mystery to me. While listening to this book, it became more and more clear that this wasn't just a war over religious factions, but about borders, nationalities, respect, nationalists, and unionists. That is not even half of it. I couldn't help but see many eerie similarities to what's happening across Ukraine, the Middle East, and parts of Africa. It opened my eyes to the saying that "there will always be AT LEAST two sides to everything." Compromise is rare and elusive, while the level of weaponry has made things increasingly bloody. I listened as some things were put to bed, but most of the paramilitary groups were waiting in the wings, along with dirty looks and words of hate muttered under breaths.
Matthew Blaney is the reader that narrates this incredible story of different people who have more in common than they think. He has an incredible presence and his accent adds an authenticity to the whole narrative. The more often I have been listing to my books, the more often I appreciate a wonderful narrator like Blaney.
This was a pleasant surprise of a tail. Wink, wink. I thought this was going to be a simple zombie story from the cat's perspective, and although this book belongs squarely in the zombie horror genre, it's so much more. Among other things that I find make a good horror story, shining a light on issues in society, while having a nice bit of humor throughout are both present here. In other words, we get more than just a fun horror story.
Yuki is the name of the cat. She is not a pet. She is Jin's partner during the apocalypse. They ended up saving each other's butts more than a few times throughout the book. Jin is also looking for his wife, who he believes to be on an island and hopefully alive. These two gents set off trying to survive and find love. - Yuki is forever falling for other felines and always having his advances declined.
Pick this one up if you are a fan of the Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service series, the Vinland Saga series, or any of Junji Ito's books. I would also recommend for anyone that wants to try out Manga, the Japanese version of a US graphic novel that read right to left.
Hello madams and monsters. Boy, I have a good one in store for you all. This is the first book in a while that felt like the old world, but with monsters. Yea yea, we have many monsters in our current world, but these are much more entertaining and dare I say, less frightening? This is an extremely fun sci-fi comedy that takes place in the present.
Jamie Gray has been downsized out of a job during the pandemic, landing squarely in poverty. He gets a hot tip from an old college buddy about a lucrative job, IF he is willing to put in the time. The job has something to do with protecting large animals for extended amounts of time with no access to the modern world ...but he will be compensated handsomely if he accepts this job offer. What would you do? Jamie's dead end situation makes me say, "Bring on the large animals, and to heck with creature comforts!" So I dove into this weird, wonderful, wild journey.
I have never read Scalzi before, and from what I am told, I'll be picking up the likewise hilarious absurd tale of science fiction and fantasy, Redshirts. Scalzi writes smart, funny dialog without being dumb and punny. A taste of a line as a character receives some vaccines: “So, just to be clear, the choices here are ‘homicidal maniac’ or ‘shit Tornado?’”
At any rate, this was a book that I seemed to read at inopportune times. I always had to put it away too early! My recommendation is: carve out time for this, get your jammers on, fix yourself some snacks for the duration, and plan on not blinking until the tale is told.
I haven't read a good "unreliable protagonist" novel in a while. Ted and his cat, Olivia, definitely can't be trusted to tell the truth, despite the fact that Olivia is a devout bible reader. They live in a small town where Ted may or may not have been scapegoated in a crime involving a young child. His point of view and mannerisms keep you off-balance throughout the story. He does get the joy of seeing his daughter sometimes, which conflicts with his potentially offensive past. After all, how would he be allowed to see his child if something heinous actually happened, and he was the town's enemy number one? I am being very mysterious, but this one is a fun story to slowly peel back as the madness begins to set in. If you are looking for some creepies, this book has those as well. I wouldn't go as far as calling it a full-scale horror novel. It is more of a suspenseful tale that holds you with in a grip on the back of your neck of impending doom. Comparable titles would be The Library at Mount Char, Universal Harvester, and possibly Mexican Gothic.
This is a fascinating guide to think critically about language. During and after reading the book, you imagine parsing an opposing view's language. Specifically, by examining how it was said. It's really interesting to take one of your favorite politician's sayings and look at how they are really saying something. It's easy to point out biases in others; not so easy to look at ourselves.
Ali takes us through different concepts and examples of what things literally mean, vs. what they could be interpreted to mean. He even uses real headlines. I found this book to be non-partisan with examples from both sides of the aisle throughout. I welcomed the challenge of putting myself in the opposing view's shoes in this one. It's a great exercise to keep the mind sharp.
Here are a few great examples from the book:
"Beloved Woodland Bookshop becomes a casualty of Rabbit-Badger Conflict"
There is no mention of the laser-guided catapult involved, or which of the two combatants launched it. Does it matter? How did this conflict start? How long has it been going on? Was there one side that started it maliciously, or just a few acting alone?
"Badger under fire for allegedly using anti-Rabbit slur during interview with radio host."
Did he or didn't he? If he didn't it's not a story. If he did, it's not alleged.
I like this one because this cuts both ways for those for or against Badger.
Bottom Line? Language can get quite confusing. I recommend giving this book a try. You can pick it up, read a small section, and take time to digest what you have consumed. Case by case, I could practice in the real world just by turning on the news. or picking up a paper to see if I could dissect something for myself.
Claire has done what I didn't think could be done: she wrote a cute Christmas story that someone as cynical as me enjoyed! (I guess I it did have just a bit of a dark side as well.) Protagonist Bill Furlong is a coal merchant in Ireland circa 1985. The Catholic Church looms large, performing laundry services for various businesses in town, and running a finishing school for local girls. But Bill makes a coal delivery, and also makes a terrible discovery that apparently the locals are too scared or indifferent to speak up about. Bill's battle with his conscience is a deep dive into his inner demons, self-doubt, and is just such fantastic introspective fiction. The book clocks in at about 114 pages, so it won’t keep you up all night. I'd liken the writing style to that of Leif Enger, and encourage you to pick it up for a nice snowy afternoon.
Ian takes the ridiculous ideas that have been germinating in his head and extrapolates them by essay to the page. They range from fun and madcap to serious, real-world issues, and every one of them is great. The most comparable titles I can think of are maybe a goofier David Sedaris or a less political Alexandra Petri. The great thing about these essays is that they are all fairly short. I liked just reading one here and there, jumping around like I was defying the "correct" way to read a book. In one of my favorites, a man walks into a bar, and a freshly dug-up skeleton chats him up. Primarily over the shock of how terrible the Mets are. In another essay, everyone in a household is named Fanshawe. I read the name Fanshawe so many times I started to think I was losing my marbles! Every time I thought I knew what my takeaway was "supposed to be," I changed my mind. I say give Ian a shot! He's pretty hilarious.
This is a fun one. As Michiganders, people think we talk funny or maybe part of Canada. Finally the rest of the country has a guide to help them understand our ways! Charlie Berens offers you a masterclass about everything Midwest. Charlie is a stand-up comedian, YouTube star, and a salt-of-the-earth kinda guy. You will learn about such things as:
How to handle the midwest goodbye which have been known to take weeks to disengage from.
What to do when encountering a deer near the road, on the road, or hurtling through the air at your windshield
How to choose your favorite pasty a.k.a. What is a pasty?
This book is destined for the self-help bestseller list any moment! I plan on sending some to my distant relatives so they can brush up on our culture. If you don’t believe me, check out one of Charlie’s videos:
I picked Wolfboy on a whim, because it looked kind of Halloweenie. And it is! I am a sucker for the wizardly illustrations that are happening here. It feels like Harkness has sculpted these pages from clay. Think: stop-motion movie/claymation. The textures look like you can feel them right through the page.
Our story follows Wolfboy through the different parts of the outdoors as he looks for rabbits to eat, because he is hungry, and huffy, and drooly. The reader can see the rabbits cleverly hidden in the illustrations, but silly Wolfboy just keeps missing them! I will not give away the ending, but it doesn't end in tragedy for the rabbits... or Wolfboy either.
Highly recommended for an interactive read. Re-reads will reinforce "indpendent reading time," since the text will already be running on repeat in their minds anyway!
I did not see where this book was going, and it was awesome. Axel's illustrations are wonderfully whimsical showing off his mastery of bright colors. Gadabout the Great, Princess Pearl, and Zog, the flying dragon, are our main characters. Pearl and Gadabout are doctors who fly around helping different patients; always with Zog's slightly unreliable flying track record. Everybody is getting help until they stop at Princess Pearl's Uncle's house. He just happens to be the King, and he does not think that a princess can be a doctor.
Zog was fantastic, heartfelt, and it teaches a lesson that people and situations can change, especially for the better.
Quick aside: I had a customer order all of the books from these authors before Christmas. I'm glad I took notice and finally read one. This is actually the first book I have read from the creators of The Gruffalo. *Gasp!* I know, I know. Don't worry, it's on my to-read list now! I know now that I am in for a treat when I can get some of their other books. (Here's a handy link to all of them.)
I'm more of an independent sci-fi reader than superheros when it comes to comics, and this was AWESOME! Tom King tells us the story of Vision living in suburbia. (This is definitely NOT the tv series version that Marvel just released.) Vision and his family, which he basically created, are living in suburbia, and dealing with many things that non-Avenger kinds of folks deal with. Vision just wants to be a human (he is a synthezoid). So he whipped himself up a family with his superior intellect. They even have a dog. Everything is going swell until the deaths start happening. Then the kids seem to be having problems. Can Vision hold his family together?
Tom King is a heck of a story teller. This story is self-contained, so you don't need to read any other comics or books to understand what's going on in the story. We get to peek behind the curtain of what superheros do when they aren't being super. Tom keeps us on the edge of our seats as he slowly turns the tension up throughout the book. This is a book you will read in one sitting period. Don't get up; no food; keep your mind clear; and absorb the slow nightmare that is Vision's life. By the time you're done you will have experienced the range of human emotion from terrible to lovely. You will be a better human.
If you are looking for high brow literature then look no further. Attack of the Underwear Dragon makes you want to never give up. Cole wants to become a Knight of the round table. He decides to write Sir Percival a letter asking to train to become a Knight. Luckily, Percival became a Knight in a similar fashion, so he takes Cole under his wing. Pretty soon, Cole is learning what it really takes to be a Knight. This is all great until an Underwear Dragon comes to destroy the kingdom. Cole has to try and use all his skills to persevere against him. Will he do it? You will have to read to find out.
I love children's books that teach some kind of lesson. While I may look like a grown up, I am categorically not. Sometimes I need a good lesson to kick me in the pants, pump up my ambition, and keep me tooling down the right track. I think the lesson of perseverance is just right for me.
Lydia Millet has a knack for writing beautiful prose while dealing with ugly situations. I picked this up on a whim and fell head over heels for it. I like to try and read a couple of award-winners or runners-up every year. And along comes Lydia. Within the first two pages, I was impressed with her monster writing chops. She effortlessly captures the voice and perspective of children, while paying little attention to the adults' hedonistic actions. The children are a collage of different species: animal lovers, weirdos, rebellious teens, and other wonderful and strange characters. This group of 12 children is stuck at a vacation home left "to their own devices without any devices" (read: no wi-fi). The children find themselves thrust together after their parents' college friends decide to have one last hurrah before they are "too old for debauchery." Those last hurrahs include adventures, sacrificing tokens from the vacation home, or following their growing sex drives. I am going to go as far as saying this is going to be a new classic. I haven’t been impressed this quickly with a book in a long time. Read the first few pages and you will be transformed back into a version of your younger self, wondering, "Why are my parents so weird?"
This is such a wonderful little book. One of my favorite parts about children’s books is that there is almost always a lesson or moral. In Band Together we open on a young duck who likes to play music and keep to himself. Soon the duck runs into some other forest animals who want to be friends and play some music together. Being a loner, the duck is unsure. The band finally gets the chance to play in a show, but they are a man down! They reach out to duck, but he turns them down. As much as he would like to make some friends, he is unsure of himself. Plot twist! - Right before they are about to cancel the show, the duck gets the courage to play! Trying new things, overcoming anxiety and fear of acceptance, and allowing yourself to be cared for are the themes woven throughout this brightly illustrated book. It illustrates beautifully what many of us feel at different times throughout life. Sometimes we just need to go for it and embrace the music!
I loved this short little picture book. It's about a little girl who gets her first "No." She finds that her idea begins to change with the more and more "Nos" she gets. It's not necessarily bad that her idea is changing, it just becomes different. Soon she finds that she needs other people's help to handle all the "Nos" in her idea. By the time we get to the end of the story all those "Nos" have become something else entirely, a "Yes." I love that this story is open ended enough that we can interpret it in many different ways. I like thinking that without all these "Nos" she never would have gotten to the "Yes." There is a reward we get as we watch her problem solve throughout the story. I also really enjoy the relatively simple, mostly black-and-white illustrations throughout. It works very well using negative space as the story progresses, eventually culminating in full color. I think this would be a great story for any child to read with a parent and discuss what they think it means.
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Willa is a pretty typical young lady who does well in school, the scouts, and playing the oboe. She has a secret though. She likes to go up on the roof and howl at nighttime. Her mother doesn't seem to care too much for that kind of thing. So Willa decides to go hang out in the forest where a bigfoot lives. The bigfoot attempts to scare Willa, but it's no use: Willa just roars back. Soon Buttercup the Bigfoot and Willa become great friends and learn things from each other. One day, Willa's mother shows up and brings Willa back to the city and won't take Buttercup with her. Willa is lonely when she gets back. It turns out Buttercup is lonely too. Soon Buttercup is going to school with Willa and really enjoys being just like any other little girl. Of course they still go up on the roof to howl in the evenings. I loved this story, because it is about finding common ground. The vivid illustrations leave me wanting to come back to this book again and again.
Joe has done it again this year with a Lansdale stand-alone novel. Instead of writing about our favorite private investigators Hap and Leonard, More Better Deals offers a wickedly funny thrill ride through Texas in 1960s through the eyes of a rough and tumble used car salesman who is always ends up scratching on the eightball. Ed trys to stay on the straight and narrow, but usually something drags him back down. It looks like this time it might be Nancy. Tasked with collecting on a red Cadillac whose owners decided they were done paying, Ed doesn't turn up the man on the bill of sale, but a lovely and dangerous gal instead. Unfortunately for Ed, it looks like Nancy might have some down right dirty tricks up her sleeve. As always, Landsdale's smooth-talking characters carry an air of danger, and with Nancy's husband back in town, she's talked Ed right into a dangerous situation. Every once in a while, I get a book that makes me feel like I'm in some black and white gangster flick. This would be the first one since Christopher Moore's Noir; also a really fun read. At any rate, anyone who wants to visit a time when you could rough someone up without the police getting involved, or smoke in a grocery store should pick up More Better Deals. You might even forget what's going on in the rest of the world for a moment. Wouldn't that be lovely?
James Veitch is something of a tech prankster. Have you ever wondered who all those scam emails are for? Apparently for James. Let's say someone emails you that they have a large amount of money in a box they would like to split with you. The one catch is that you need to give them your name, and address, as well as pay part of a fee to be able to get the said box of money. James relishes talking with these scammers. Sometimes he can string them along for days. While I do not know how I would make a living messing with various scammers, apparently James has. He has turned his stories into TED talks, comedy shows, and it has even driven him to the late night talk show circuit. All these tales are told through email and personal messages, which makes it what I call a fantastic chunk reader. A "chunk reader" is of course a book read in smaller doses. I like mine when I'm having a bad day and need a laugh to reset or first thing in the morning to get the day started off right. I implore you to take a wild ride through Veitch's hilarious true stories with a deadpan delivery. For fans of Chuck Klosterman, David Sedaris, and Alexandra Petrie.
"Nonsense!" is a fantastically wonderful book about an extremely smart, strangely silly, brilliant man who liked to scribble in black ink weaving brilliant views of fear, sometimes joy. We learn about all the things that went into making a man that no one could quite understand: he reveled in oxymorons, was reading by age 3, and often wrote stories with unfortunate endings. Many followed in his footsteps. He was maybe a bridge between the likes of Lewis Carrol and Mary Shelly to newcomers Lemony Snicket and Chris Riddell. "Nonsense!" gives young readers a glimpse into our sneaker-wearing, ring-jingling, fur-coat-grooving friend. Did I mention this guy had a lot of cats? He bought a boat captain's house to live in with all of his cats. What a wonderful fellow.
"The Cat Man of Aleppo" is a story told through the lense of war. This is a touching story, one that brings hope. Alaa was an ambulance driver when war came down on Allepo. Many fled but Alaa did not. Everyday he did his duty to help his fellow man. Many animals were left behind when people fled, and Alaa began to spend his leftover pay on food for the cats who were left behind. Soon more and more cats came out of the shadows. Could Alaa love them all? With the help of his fellow man they began building a sanctuary for these animals. Next, he began receiving donations. Alaa set out to use those funds to help the animals and people of his city feel more love. While finishing this book was a bit tough fighting through the tears, I think this is a perfect tale to bring us joy about our fellow humans and animals during these trying times.
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Long Bright River has a little bit for everyone: thrills, mystery, family drama, social issues, all coalescing around a scene where the actions of humans contribute to the situation at hand. This all takes place in Kensington, Pennsylvania: a city that seems to always be in shadow as the trains pass overhead. You will always see the same folks out on the street doing whatever it is they do that propels them through life. It could be drugs, prostitution, or running a shiny new establishment to help revitalize the area. Or is it to gentrify the area? Kensington seems to be a place where everyone has an idea about how it should grow. The black market would probably like to keep it as it. Many questions go unanswered or aren’t even asked. Kensington seems to be the most prominent character in this story. I think that’s what I love about it. You can smell the rain mix with the dirt and garbage as it hushes the streets with its weight. Just because it rains, doesn’t mean life slows down at all.
Kacey and Mickey are sisters who lost their parents at an early age. This is always just on the periphery of what is happening either to them or around them. Control can only take you so far. Kacey has always been the more responsible sister. The worrier. Mickey has always been a bit more cavalier; slightly dangerous. Kacey ends up becoming a cop, keeping the beat, while always keeping an eye out for Mickey. She’s out there somewhere. Mickey seemed destined for what she became the first time she overdosed. At the heart of Long Bright Line is a family struggle, and it's a struggle for survival. It seems that no matter how hard they paddle; the current is always going to win. This is a tale of a walk-in others' shoes. You may have worn them before; maybe you are wearing them now. At any rate you know someone with them. Come on down to Kensington and see where these shoes take you.
Judy Shachner has done it again. It seems to me every time she comes up with a new book it's even better than the last. Judy is probably most well known for her Skippyjon Jones books; I really like these new cats though. Obviously, Stretchy does a lot of ...stretching. Stretchy lives in a cardboard box with his siblings and always ends up at the bottom of the sleeping pile since he is so ...stretchy. One day he decides to take a little vacation has some adventures and meets a little girl named Beanie who also loves to ...stretch. Stretchy ends up having so much fun that he loses track of time, and his siblings come looking for him because they're worried. I won't give away the end, just know that all ends well.
I really like Stretchy as a children's book because of the way the pictures and text interact synergistically, bringing the story vividly to life. Fairly young readers will be able to identify with the picture where Stretchy wraps his arms around a tree, or when he is itching his fleas. It's nice to pause and have the child point out the action for what Stretchy, or one of the other characters, is doing. Stretchy scratches my itch for a new Judy Sachner book!
Kitty and the Moonlight Rescue is a super-fantastic early chapter book for ages 8-12 years old. Kitty’s mother has left for the night. She's on the prowl, being a superhero, and helping the people of the city with her "catty" superpowers. Kitty hears a knock at the window and meets a young cat in need of a superhero. Kitty must decide if she can be brave and go help somebody in need all by herself - without having powers. If someone is in trouble, she must at least try. On her adventure, Kitty makes some friends.
I loved this book; there is already a second book out in the series and a third landing in March. (full info. here) I really liked this book, because Kitty gathers up the courage and belief in herself to help out her new friends. You get to see her confidence grow throughout the story. Especially when one of her newfound friends is a little unsure of themselves. It gets the official #alexapproved.
Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy! I loved Out from the first page. I believe a term like hidden gem, fits as the description of John Smolens’s writing. It is just wonderful. John has written one of my favorite kinds of stories, a blizzard story set in Marquette, MI. We follow a small cast of characters through the duration. We have Del, who you may be familiar with if you have read one of John’s previous books Cold. He is a retired widower, recovering from hip surgery, introvertedly passing the time. Next a pregnant physical therapist turns up to help Del out with some stretching and rehab named Marcia. We also have two young men, Barr and Connor, who have had some kind of altercation leading to one of them lying face down bleeding in the snow. They also have some kind of connection to our pregnant therapist. Out happens quickly. Each turn of the page may flip the situation on its head with a slow burn of suspense. I would compare this book to one of my other favorites Sweetgirl by Travis Mulhauser, or Steve Hamilton's books. If you need a new Michigan thriller or suspense, pick this up along with some of his others, many having a Michigan connection.
I read a lot of books on the opioid epidemic. Much of the time, I find I already know everything in a new book that comes out. Not this time. Fentanyl, INC. sheds light on the underground corners of the internet and history that have been covered in darkness. This book is much more than the tale of how America has a fentanyl problem. It is more about the actions that brought us here. What I found astounding, was that we probably wouldn’t have a heroin or fentanyl problem if we just let the people that want to get high with an approved medication approved by a doctor or a pharmacist get high. Then, people would know what they were putting in their bodies. Maybe we would not have as many people selling these drugs if we could get them decent jobs that payed a living wage. Possibly they might have an unresoved mental issue and if they were to get some treatment they wouldn’t be self-medicating the best way they know how. Also some people just wanna get high. We let them do it by drinking or smoking grass, maybe some people want to do it with narcotics. At any rate, users have a higher chance of dying because their drugs could be contaminated. Fentanyl has gotten more accesible, because it can be made in a lab. It is so potent, that a gram could potentially kill 300ish people. Reading books like this means we can make informed decisions about laws that we vote on. We can't arrest our way out of this situation. I mean, people can order this stuff right to their doorstep! I recommend this book for anyone that works around drugs, uses them, knows someone addicted, or lives in an area with a heroin/fentanyl problem. If we educate ourselves, we may be able to help those that need it.
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Bruno is a wonderful little story about being different, but that doesn’t matter if you're friends. Bruno may not do many of the normal cat things, but the things he does do are totally awesome just the same. I will only let you in on one of the special ways Bruno is different, because I don’t want to give it all away: Bruno does not catch mice, but he loves to chase them on his skateboard! What I love about Bruno is that he doesn’t really care what others think of him. He likes to do his own thing, and his friends love him for it.
I have been waiting forever for this book to get re-released. It’s finally here. First things first, Mark Alan Stamaty has drawn my favorite two children’s books, “Who Needs Donuts?” and “Small in the Saddle.” The later has been out of print for many years. Hopefully they re-release that one as well. Anyways “Yellow Yellow” is a simple book, but highly versatile. You can read it like a regular picture book and look at the pictures. You can spend hours pouring over every page, so you see everything each beautifully crafted page has to offer. My favorite is looking at everything and using it as a jumping off point for some of my own art. At “Yellow Yellow’s” heart I would say this is a story about living in a city and just enjoying life. This city’s characters and texture are amazingly inked by Stamaty. You might find a Grandmother unicycling, holding her cane, while wearing a hat that seems to be filled with a mailbox and clowns. Maybe you will come across full grown cowboy pulling a toy duck. One of my favorite things I saw was a man about a foottall riding a jumping frog in front of a cobbler fixing what appears to be a giant’s shoe.
A perfect family is shattered when their daughter goes missing in this "brilliantly executed" New York Times bestselling thriller from a "master storyteller" (Providence Sunday Journal).
You've lost your daughter. She's addicted to drugs and to an abusive boyfriend. And she's made it clear that she doesn't want to be found.
Emily Tetri has written a lovely story to help us understand our imaginations. While some thoughts are scary, remember, they’re all in your head.
Everyday, Tiger gets home from school, eats dinner, then brings yummy food to the monster under her bed. They play some games, and then go to sleep. Monster showed up when Tiger was little,and thought it was not fair to scare someone so young. He decided to scare away Tiger’s nightmares instead. This worked great until there was a nightmare that would not listen to him. So, Tiger and Monster had a problem: no one was getting any sleep. They tried a few ways to stop it. Finally, Tiger decided since nightmares are all in her head, she would tell the nightmare it wasn’t real and it would finally go away. Which it did! Now they fight nightmares together, and they can both get some sleep. Tiger was able to think deeply about the problem, and fix it all by himself.
I loved this book. I think it’s quite applicable for grown ups as well. Irrational anxieties can be hard to deal with. So far, the best way I have found is to meditate until I’m inside my head, and then I tell my brain to chill out, the world isn’t ending, and all is going to be ok. I guess I'm just like Tiger! A kid who might need a little help calming themselves, might really enjoy the example set by Tiger and Monster.
I implore you to pick up this fun, quick read. Don’t wait. Scare away your nightmares with Tiger and Monster. Best for ages 7-10.
This book tastes like eating cornbread, chicken, and watermelon at a picnic in an ancient southern cemetery, and then enjoying a couple of cold beers just as dusk engulfs you. This is a fictitious story about a fictitious story. It's full of southern charm and wit. We get to see the best of people, the worst of people, and the weirdness of humanity.
The Vine that Ate the South tells the story of southern life through a hodgepodge of schizophrenic ramblings just coherent enough for us to be able to understand without some kind of debilitation or superpower; this is the reason I intensely relished this book.
J.D. Wilkes and his hillbilly sidekick Carver Canute are going on a epic journey of mythical proportions; at least in their own minds. They are going to experience "The Kudzu House of Horrors," a local legend. The map in the beginning of the book will give you an idea of what's in store for the two heroes. Everything seems to be exaggerated, or at least on the edge of believably in this book. There are stories of insane men of the cloth, tales of mad bands holed up in abandoned grain silos, empty Freemason lodges, broken down con men, remote control gun turrets, and an epic tale revolving around a dust devil whipping up more than a storm. All of these stories relating to the journey paint the picture of what our heroes have gone through to get to this point in their lives, and without them I don't think that these boys would have the strength to make it to the conclusion. Please pick this book up if you want a breath of a fresh story. The process of unpacking parts of this novel will inevitably leave your eyes opened a little wider to the world, and perhaps a bit more understanding of your fellow man, even if some of them are a little hard to believe. If I could, I would jump on a mountain bike with J.D. and Carver and not stop peddling 'til the dream is fulfilled.
“One of the most intriguing future cities in years.” —Charlie Jane Anders
“Simmers with menace and heartache, suspense and wonder.” —Ann Leckie
A Best Book of the Month in
The Washington Post
As heard on NPR's This American Life
“Absorbing . . . Though it's non-fiction, The Feather Thief contains many of the elements of a classic thriller.” —Maureen Corrigan, NPR’s Fresh Air
“One of the most peculiar and memorable true-crime books ever.” —Christian Science Monitor
From the late 1980s through the 1990s, crack was king of the streets and the project hallways of the Bronx. Crack was outselling heroin and in turn bringing a new kind of junkie to the street, as well as a new kind of dealer. There have always been gangs, but this new market gave way to a rise in violence never seen in this community. The dealers got younger, more violent, and ruthless in holding and gaining new territories. One minute someone was your brother and the next, they’re shooting you and taking the money out of your pocket.
“SMM” tells the true story of young men, their friends, and families who slogged through their lives hoping not to be murdered, to overdose, be robbed, or hear that another friend or family member needs to be buried. It also begs the question of why people have to worry about these things every day. How did we let government housing become what it is? Why are there so many guns in the urban centers, and why do minors have them? If people need help, why isn’t there somewhere they can go to get it? This book reminds us that we must stay humble and at the same time raise up our American brothers and sisters when they need help. The 1990s in the Bronx was a difficult time, and I believe it pays to remember our recent history and learn from it.
A daring, firsthand, and utterly-unscripted account of crisis in America, from Ferguson to Flint to Cliven Bundy's ranch to Donald Trump's unstoppable campaign for President--at every turn, Pulitzer-prize winner and bestselling author of Detroit: An American Autopsy, Charlie LeDuff was there
Christmastime has come. Unfortunately for Bruce the bear, he will not be sleeping through this year’s holiday season, because he is a mother to a family of goslings. While out shoveling snow, Bruce is mistaken for Santa Claus. He tries to hide inside, but soon everyone in the forest wants Bruce to listen to what they want for Christmas and hand out presents. Will Bruce keep his cool and not become a Scrooge? I suggest you come in quick and pick up a copy of Santa Bruce to find out.
If you have never read a Bruce book, I highly recommend all of them. I don’t know if I could say I like one more than any of the others, but whenever a new one comes out, I can’t wait to see what the world has instore for Bruce and his family. Bruce has starred in several of his own books. And, if you didn’t know, the mice from Hotel Bruce also appear in a picture book called Be Quiet after they discover they are not the best at hotel management.
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Lincoln in the Bardo, a darkly comic short story about the unintended consequences unleashed by our quest to tame the natural world—featuring gorgeous black-and-white illustrations by Chelsea Cardinal.
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From the New York Times best-selling author of The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires comes a hard-rocking, spine-tingling horror novel about a washed-up guitarist of a ’90s heavy metal band who embarks on an epic road-trip across America and deep into the web of a sinister conspiracy.
Now a Major Motion Picture Starring Michelle Pfeiffer and Lucas Hedges, directed by Azazael Jacobs
A Recommended Read from:
Vanity Fair * Entertainment Weekly * Vulture * The Millions * Publishers Weekly * Esquire
PULITZER PRIZE FINALIST • NATIONAL BESTSELLER • A wondrous and shattering award-winning novel that follows twelve characters from Native communities: all traveling to the Big Oakland Powwow, all connected to one another in ways they may not yet realize.
Awaiting Identification is a brilliant mystery/crime story taking place on the streets of Detroit on Devil’s Night or Angel’s Night depending on what side of the law you prefer to dance on. Immediately we are thrown into "NYC Girl’s" anxiety and worry about coming back to a place she never thought she would have to see again. With few options left, she is just aiming for survival. With child, NYC Girl has to be careful in this city that seems to always have the scent of fire on the wind. Should she haunt some of the old corners and clubs she used to frequent or should she try and see if her drug addicted mom will pity instead of spite her? Will "Leaf Man" the DJ finally make it out of his seedy underworld? Will the sonic waves of drum and bass be enough for him to finally retire? Or will he end up straying from his path, perhaps helping a young lady he meets on the train? The young man, "R.I.P.," has made some poor decisions as a defense mechanism to keep him one step ahead in a city that could eat him alive. He must keep coming up with ways help cover the huge cost of his father’s medication that his uninsured family, living in disarray, affords by breaking the law. Or will the nice samaritan with a suitcase full of vinyl be his savior? "The Cat Man" seems to be at peace with the world just trying to spread a little joy to the down and out in a town that seems to be rejecting the people trying to survive there. After all, who doesn’t like a homeless man, with a kitten in his pocket that just wants to make friends with his fellow travelers in the world. Then we have "the Zealot." He seems to be everywhere. Always warning people they must change their ways and get rid their sin. He offends everyone he meets. Why does he have those scars all over him?
I could not put this book down. Roaming all over Detroit with these poor souls knowing their fate before the story even gets started is an insane roller coaster ride. Each time you see an interaction through another character’s fate the story changes just a little more. I loved how you can love them when seen from one perspective, and how the next time you are disgusted with how the interaction turns out. It reminds me of watching a scary movie and when the music begins to jump I can’t help but yell at the players to not go in the basement. If you are looking for a great crime story set in the city of Detroit, please pick this one up. It will have you laughing, crying, and cursing before you close the last page.
With thrilling chills and crackling suspense, The Dead Run is an edgy novel set in the netherworld of the Mexican-American border from Adam Mansbach, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Go the F**ck to Sleep and Rage Is Back.
When Russell joins Black Arts games, brainchild of two visionary designers who were once his closest friends, he reunites with an eccentric crew of nerds hacking the frontiers of both technology and entertainment. In part, he's finally given up chasing the conventional path that has always seemed just out of reach.
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From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Go the F*** to Sleep, “a rollicking, frenetic and hilarious jaunt” (San Francisco Chronicle) and an Amazon Best Book of the Month
From David Wong, the writer of the cult sensation John Dies at the End,omes another terrifying and hilarious tale of almost Armageddon at the hands of two hopeless heroes.
Warning: You may have a huge, invisible spider living in your skull. THIS IS NOT A METAPHOR.
Holy Ghost Girl appeared to me as some sort of realistic fiction. Upon further investigation it was clear that this book is, indeed, a memoir. Donna takes you on a journey through the south underneath a traveling revival tent from the 60's. Donna spent her early life bouncing around with the Terrellaties. Brother Terrell's following went from few to many in a matter of years thanks to his fighting of the KKK, healing of the sick, and prophesying of the end times. Donna and her brother bounce all over with Brother Terrell, her mom, and a host of different people that watch them for The older she gets the more she becomes torn on believing some holly roller doctrine and sinning with the worldly people. Over all Holy Ghost is a quick and exciting look into a different way of growing up for Donna.
For Fans of: the Glass Castle
Dora is a problematic teen. Her troubles happen in family, sexual, and therepeutic departments of her life. Dora's mother is heavily medicated while her father is out womanizing. For Dora to escape these problems she hangs out with “sexualy different” friends ranging from middle aged Marlene, the cross dresser, to her would be lesbian lover, Obsidian. Her psychiatrist, Sigmund Freud, is trying to tell Dora about her sexual problems when she knows everything already. She is continually plotting at these departments to make her life more tolerable.
Yukavitch's first novel will leave you spinning by the time you finish it. Dora has been refered to as a “chick's fight club.” The way this story is told keeps your eyes three lines ahead to see what's next. Her teen frustration and angst is so powerful it drives her to recording everything on tape. Her family, friends, and psychiatrist are all trying to save her from herself at all the wrong times. Dora is a roller coaster of weird.
For fans of Fight Club, Apathy, and Hairstyles of the Damned
Every year the Moses Clan has a family reunion. Unfortunate events soon unfold that brings the family closer together as well as more of their problems into the open. Willadee Moses and her children end up staying at her parents home until things can be straightened around and her husband Samuel Lake can get them back on their feet. Swan, Willadee's and Samuel's eleven year old acts so inquisitive that she almost falls in to snake holes all the time. Swan's preatcher father is having a hard time finding a congregation to take him in and settles at the Moses house. He developes an idea to have an oldfashioned tent sermon in the feild across from The moses house to help his self esteem and family out. A surprising person, rough edged uncle toy, comes to be a sort of hero for the children. Toy seems to always show up at the right time, and know just what to do. Over all this book touchs on so many subjects i couldn't say what kind of genre it is, other than it's a fantastic read. From begining to end you'll find that something you didn't expect is happening all the time. When you thought you had it figured out, you'll find Swan or Toy doing something to throw you off.
If you like this, you may like a story by Daniel Woodrell or Donald Ray Pollock, both are a little on the grittier side.
Mark Twain meets classic Stephen King -- a bold new direction for widely acclaimed Edgar Award winner Joe R. Lansdale.
May Lynn was once a pretty girl who dreamed of becoming a Hollywood star. Now she's dead, her body dredged up from the Sabine River.
Seth Weinstein always knew Tina was way, way, way out of his league. Which is why he’s still astonished that he’s on a plane heading for their wedding in Florida. The Groom Posse has already pulled an airport prank on him—and he’s survived! It should be easy going from now on.
#1 International Bestseller
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel meets The Italian Job in internationally-bestselling author Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg’s witty and insightful comedy of errors about a group of delinquent seniors whose desire for a better quality of life leads them to rob and ransom priceless artwork.
“A remarkable novel. . . . A Prayer for Owen Meany is a rare creation. ... An amazingly brave piece of work ... so extraordinary, so original, and so enriching. . . . Readers will come to the end feeling sorry to leave [this] richly textured and carefully wrought world.” —STEPHEN KING, Washington Post
Skinner founded his career in "asset protection" on fear. To touch anyone under his protection was to invite destruction. A savagely effective methodology, until Skinner's CIA handlers began to fear him as much as his enemies did and banished him to the hinterlands of the intelligence community.