Saturday, September 3, 2016

Title: Me Talk Pretty One Day
Author: David Sedaris
Genre: non-fiction, humor, memoir

I am in the (slow) process of writing a book about my adventures in Library Land. I know what you're thinking: "How can she write a book about shushing people all day." Contrary to popular belief, not all library users treat libraries as the sacred spaces they are. Libraries like all public institutions have to deal with the public, and anyone who works with the public knows that a lot of the public are crazy, irrational, mentally ill, etc. Some library situations are frustrating, others are eyebrow-raising, and most are hilarious.

I attended a writing workshop a few months ago. I sat amongst my peers at the Creative Nonfiction table and we all took turns describing our ideas. My tablemates had great ideas. Serious ideas. Sex trafficking. Horses as therapy animals for autistic children. Miscarriage. Then it was my turn. "I want to write a book about my adventures working in a library and I want it have a funny and snarky vibe." Upon seeing the baffled looks, I started telling them my stories- the funny ones- and they loved it! Now I just have to find the time... The table leader suggested that I read David Sedaris' book Me Talk Pretty One Day to get a feel for writing in a humorous style. This was a homework assignment I enjoyed. Mr. Sedaris writes short essays about his crazy family (comedienne Amy Sedaris is his sister), his childhood in North Carolina, his adventures living in NYC, and his misadventures learning French and living in France. Some stories made me chuckle and others had me laughing out loud.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Title: Wreck the Halls: Cake Wrecks Gets "Festive"
Author: Jen Yates
Genre: humor, non-fiction

I don't remember how I stumbled upon Jen Yates' blog, Cake Wrecks, but I always find her blog post hilarious and entertaining. By now you are probably wondering what exactly is a Cake Wreck? According to the blog's site: "A Cake Wreck is any cake that is unintentionally sad, silly, creepy, inappropriate - you name it. A Wreck is not necessarily a poorly-made cake; it's simply one I find funny, for any of a number of reasons. Anyone who has ever smeared frosting on a baked good has made a Wreck at one time or another, so I'm not here to vilify decorators: Cake Wrecks is just about finding the funny in unexpected, sugar-filled places." Cake Wrecks only make fun of professionally decorated cakes and when you check out the cakes on her blog you'll wonder how some of these professional cake decorators were able to land and/or keep their jobs. On Sundays, Jen posts her weekly "Sunday Sweets" post which are themed cakes that are absolute perfection.

Wreck the Halls is Jen Yates' second book; it's a quick and hilarious read that is perfect for sharing holiday cheer with others. The pictures of these cakes are horrible on their own but the captions and snarky comments take them to a whole new level of hilarity. After reading her blog and two books, you will never look at cake the same way again.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Title: My Father's House
Author: Rose Chandler Johnson
Genre: Christian fiction, inspirational, Southern fiction, Georgia author, takes place in Georgia, women's fiction

Lily Rose Cates had a mostly idyllic, small-town childhood: an older brother who was a ready playmate and with whom she was extremely close to, a loving and protective father, and a mother who suffered from unrelenting grief and depression. Lily's father unexpectedly passes away leaving Lily to emotionally flounder throughout the rest of high school and into college. Unfortunately Lily's sweet nature and sheltered childhood do not prepare her for the harsh realities of the world. She falls head over heels with the first man (Manny) who showers her with charm, attention and romance. Despite warnings from Annie Ruth, the caregiver for Lily's mother and the adopted family matriarch, Lily marries him and eventually regrets it. After suffering Manny's abuse for 2 1/2 years, Lily (with the help of a friend) escapes from Manny, and returns to Georgia, to the house she inherited from her father. With the help of her friends, neighbors, her writing, her faith, and a handsome veterinarian, Lily rebuilds her life. A nice clean read that was a nice, relaxing change of pace after a busy semester. Non-religious readers will be able to enjoy this book as well since it is not too preachy or too sappy.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Title: Being Mortal
Author: Atul Gawande
Genre: non-fiction, medical history, end-of-life issues

I read this book after my boss called it "the best book I've ever read." How can a book blogger pass on a recommendation like that?

In the recent past extended families took care of each other, yet in this same era people tended to die quickly and unexpectedly and had shorter lifespans. Nowadays people can languish in pain for years from the effects of multiple chronic diseases, medications, and medical interventions. When medical knowledge increased, our lifespans increased, as well, but not necessarily our quality of life in later years or when suffering with a terminal illness. While family members could take care of each other in the past, the increased lifespan and effects of multiple diseases means that family members do not have the time, skill, or appropriate knowledge to take care of their loved ones. Dr. Gawande investigated the history of nursing homes and assisted living institutions for this book. The priority of nursing homes is safety of the residents and efficiency for the staff. Personalized quality of care of the residents is never discussed which is why so many of the elderly waste away. Dr. Gawande also toured and interviewed hospice care which provides comfort on the terms of the ill instead of high-tech medical procedures. Hospice allows the terminally patient to prioritize what matters most to them in the end and helps the patient reach those priorities.

This was definitely the best non-fiction book I have read this year. Dr. Gawande writes in a personable and non-intimidating style about a subject that most of us are uncomfortable discussing. Dr. Gawande was also uncomfortable discussing end of life issues with his own parents and all three of them are doctors! Keep the tissues handy- you will need them!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Title: Tricky Twenty-Two
Author: Janet Evanovich
Genre: fiction, humor, mystery, chick lit

Our favorite clumsy bond enforcer is back- but Stephanie is not having a good time. First Joe breaks up with her (say it ain't so!), she has a huge pimple about ready to explode, and then Lula gets kidnapped and carjacked during a bond enforcement pickup. On top of all this, Stephanie and Lula are investigating a no-show bonded client with ties to the Zeta fraternity house at the local university. On top of the usual fraternity hijinks, this frat house has connections to a mysterious university researcher who turns out to be a wee bit cray-cray: fleas, Bubonic plague and other nasty stuff.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Title: Darkroom
Author: Lila Quintero Weaver
Genre: graphic novel, memoir, Hispanic author, non-fiction, Southern history, American history

Psst! I have a confession to make.... I just read a graphic novel for the first time last night.....I read Archie and Veronica comics as a kid but I never did become a huge graphic novel fan- mainly because of the scantily clad women on most of the covers, but the premise behind Darkroom was intriguing: a graphic novel/memoir about growing up Hispanic in a tiny, rural Alabama town during the tumultuous Civil Rights era. Call me a nerd, but that sounded pretty riveting. Instead of the traditional inked comic panels, Darkroom is full of original, detailed pencil drawings. 

Lila Quintero Weaver originally created this as a senior project for her undergrad degree back in 2007. As a non-traditional college student myself, this is inspiring to see her schoolwork become a published work.
Ms. Quintero Weaver came to Augusta a few months ago as part of Augusta University's Latino Americans series but unfortunately, I couldn't attend her lecture due to work and school obligations, but you can watch part of her lecture here: and you can read more about the Latino Americans series here:

Friday, March 4, 2016

Title: Black Widow Forever Red
Author: Margaret Stohl
Genre: YA fiction, superheroes

I never got into reading comic books but when I heard that the Black Widow storyline had been turned into a YA novel, I was intrigued...
Ava Orlova is a scrappy orphan on the run from SHIELD (yes, that SHIELD) with one best friend and a stray cat to call family. Alex Manor lives a comfortable suburban life but lately he feels like he's being watched. Ava has dreams of people she never met, especially a certain tall and handsome boy who loves fencing. Ava also remembers the day that Black Widow saved her from Ivan Somodorov. At a fencing tournament Alex and Ava meet and their fates become intertwined when the Black Widow shows up and saves them from Ivan's stooges. Soon Natasha learns that her connection to Alex is blood-related our favorite female assassin starts to become human again when she realizes she has a family member to protect.

Overall, the book was okay. The pacing started out quick, dragged in the middle, and picked back up again during the last few chapters. Natasha Romanoff is a lot more aloof and self-protective in this book than in the Avengers movies. She has guarded herself for decades and once she finds out she has a brother, she starts to soften (although that seemed to happen a little too quickly considering all that she has been through).

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Title: The Big One: The Earthquake That Rocked Early America and Helped Create a ScienceAuthors: Jake Page and Charles Officer
Genres: non-fiction, American history, science

Most American are familiar with the San Andreas fault and the infamous earthquakes that rock the West Coast every few decades but the New Madrid area of Missouri is unfamiliar to most. New Madrid lies on the bank of the muddy Mississippi River- not your usual suspect for earthquake activity.... This book takes the reader back to the morning of December 16, 1811. The residents of New Madrid were rudely awakened by the strange lights, geysers of gas, and the ferocious movement of the earth- an earthquake!

The ramifications of the New Madrid earthquake were huge: Congress passed the first disaster relief act in 1815 to aid the homeless residents who were still trying to rebuild their lives four years after the quake. The New Madrid earthquake also helped create the science of seismology. The authors blend historical facts and figures with an action-packed writing style that keeps the science from getting too bogged down with technicalities and jargon. They also cover the beginnings of geology in the US and how early geological research aided the creation of seismology.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

Title: The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend
Author: Katarina Bivald
Genre: romance, literary fiction, women's fiction

The Readers of Broken Wheel is a delight! Amy Harris and Sara Linqvist are pen pals/book pals; after Sara is laid off from her bookstore job in Sweden Amy invites her for an extended visit to Iowa. Amy had painted a Norman Rockwell-esque portrait of Broken Wheel, Iowa to Sara: eccentric characters, town gossip, tragedy, etc. When Sara arrives she finds out that Amy has died and that the town is on the verge of dying too. Amy Harris was a respected citizen of Broken Wheel so the townspeople decide to take care of Sara and they let her stay in Amy's house free of charge. In fact, they let her do everything free of charge: meals at the diner, groceries, etc. Sara decides to repay their kindness with a bookshop. She stocks the bookshop with Amy's books and vows to find a book for everyone in the town. Broken Wheel is not a literary town (there is no library!) so Sara is looked upon as a strange European. People come into the bookshop to check out the "tourist" and eventually their lives change in small but significant ways. The town also changes Sara. Sara was used to living life vicariously through books. Ironically, she begins to live in a tiny town in Iowa!
** This book was received as an Advanced Reader Copy digital e-galley from**