Fiction · Graphic Novel · Humor · Julia P · Quick Read! · Steamy

Sex Criminals, volume 1 | by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky

Sex Criminals

Sex Criminals, vol. 1 by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky
(Image Comics, 2014, 128 pages)

In case the title of this graphic novel isn’t descriptive enough, this is definitely a book that earned it’s “mature” rating. And not that I need to validate my reading choices (no one should ever have to do that) but this title was selected by TIME as one of their top 10 graphic novels for 2013 ūüėČ

Suzie is a young librarian¬†with an interesting gift. When she has sex she has the ability to literally stop time. At first she’s not sure what to make of this ability, but then she learns how to make it work to her advantage. Then she meets Jon at a party and learns that he shares this same gift! They can’t believe they’ve found one another and then they get a brilliant idea for using their “power.” While time is stopped they’re going to rob banks… Nothing can go wrong, can it?

This is an ongoing series and volume 2 came out in March of this year. This was a unique read, for sure. It was quick and there was humor throughout. Just make sure if you decide to pick this up that you’re prepared for a fair amount of nudity (in case the title, cover, and summary didn’t clue you in). Happy reading.

Celebrities · Fiction · Film · History · Julia P

A Touch of Stardust | by Kate Alcott

A Touch of Stardust

A Touch of Stardust by Kate Alcott
(Doubleday, 2015, 296 pages)

A Touch of Stardust is a fictionalized account of the making of the epic film “Gone with the Wind.” We are on set with Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, David O. Selznick, and more as they struggle to make a film that was under constant scrutiny and constant change. The reader experiences this world through the eyes of young Julie Crawford, a girl from Ft. Wayne, Indiana who has moved to California with dreams of being a screenwriter. She ends up being offered a job as Carole Lombard’s assistant which puts her in a great position to hopefully make it in her dream profession.

A central part of this book is the relationship between Carole Lombard and Clark Gable. Julie also has a romantic storyline but it doesn’t really have the same feel as Lombard and Gable. You can tell that Alcott did her research on this book. The behind-the-scenes information about “Gone with the Wind”¬†was really interesting. If you’re a fan of the film, the book, or just this classic period in film history I think you’ll have fun reading¬†A Touch of Stardust.

Andrew S · Libraries! · Non-Fiction

BiblioTech | by John Palfrey


BiblioTech: Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google
by John Palfrey
(Basic Books, 2015, 288 pages)

As the digital age progresses and grows ever more complex, it is not always clear whether we should talk about the plight of libraries or of their growing importance. Do the continually diversifying channels through which we are permeated with information make libraries more or less relevant? John Palfrey, the former director of the Harvard Law School Library, perceives a definite crisis for libraries, but this crisis encompasses both challenges and opportunities. He calls for libraries to redefine themselves in a ‚Äúdigital-plus‚ÄĚ era ‚Äď an original and very descriptive term. Libraries must find new ways to function more effectively as a public option for knowledgeable and personal guidance to information. Finding new ways to promote democratic access to information becomes increasingly important as the privatized interests of Amazon and Google continue to dominate…

To read more of Andrew’s insightful review, check out his post at The Englewood Review of Books.

Fiction · Jean R · Juvenile

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello‚Äôs Library | by Chris Grabenstein

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein
(Random House Books for Young Readers, 2013, 304 pages)

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein is a juvenile fiction book about twelve year olds, an eccentric game maker, and a brand new library. Luigi Lemoncello built a brand new state-of-the-art library in what was an old bank building in his childhood hometown of Alexandriaville. Mr. Lemoncello decides to select 12 seventh graders to tour the library before the grand opening and to give those students the opportunity to play a new game in which the twelve year olds must figure out how to escape from the library without going back out the same way that they came in and without using the emergency exits. The winner of the game will be used in future Lemoncello commercials.

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library is a 2016 Mark Twain Award nominee and it deserves to be. It is a fun, inventive book which encourages readers to solve puzzles and use their imaginations. Even when you’ve finished reading the book, there is one more puzzle to solve.

The author, Chris Grabenstein, is an award-winning author. He is the co-author with James Patterson of the bestseller, I Funny. Grabenstein was also a writer for Jim Henson’s Muppets. He’s also done improvisational comedy. Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library is recommended for 8-12 year olds, but the young at heart will enjoy the book, too.

Babies · Food! · Julia P · Non-Fiction · Parenting

Baby-led Weaning | by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett

Baby-led Weaning

Baby-led Weaning: Helping Your Baby to Love Good Food
by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett
(Vermilion, 2008, 256 pages)

This was a different type of food book from what I used to read, but with a baby in my life and starting to eat solids this was a book I was curious about. Essentially Rapley and Murkett make the case that you don’t need to go through the process of introducing your child to food by spoon-feeding them super-pureed baby food. They explain that once your child is old enough to start eating solids you can allow them to eat the foods you are eating. Obviously there are guidelines with what types of foods you should share and how they should be “prepared,” but the point is that babies will respond well to exposure to different tastes and textures.

The logic is pretty sound. Starting out babies don’t have a lot of dexterity so you’ll want to offer food that it will be easy for them to grab in their fists and eventually maneuver to their mouths. With that in mind, the idea of them choking on food isn’t really something you need to worry about. Also, the case has been made that this approach helps children to be more adventurous eaters while simultaneously encouraging the family to eat healthier as a whole (if you don’t want your baby to eat it, you shouldn’t eat it yourself). So less processed foods and encouraging the “family meal” dynamic from a young age are just a few of the perks from baby-led weaning.

I already started testing a few things out with my daughter this weekend. While I’m still going to use the baby food I have at home, I’m also going to feel more comfortable with the idea of exposing her to the food I’m eating and allowing her to explore her food however she wants. I’m already used to the extra cleaning that comes into play when a baby’s diet expands so we might as well all have fun with it. ūüėČ

This is a book I’d recommend if you’re a parent who’s interested in learning more about¬†different ways you can approach introducing new foods to your child.

Art · Fiction · Graphic Novel · In the Library · Julia P

The Sculptor | by Scott McCloud

The Sculptor

The Sculptor by Scott McCloud
(First Second, 2015, 487 pages)

If you’re a fan of graphic novels and comics you’re probably familiar with Scott McCloud and his classic book¬†Understanding Comics. When it was revealed that he had a new graphic novel coming out this year people got pretty excited. After I finished reading it this weekend it was easy to see why. Despite it’s size this was a book I got through in just a couple days and I really enjoyed my time in the story McCloud crafted.

David Smith is a young sculptor in New York. He made a name for himself early but then lost favor in the art world after making the poor decision of bad-mouthing his patron. Struggling to make ends meet David isn’t sure how he’s going to survive and it’s at this point that he expresses he’d be willing to give his life for his art. “Luckily” for him, this is a deal he’s able to make. Now he has 200 days and the ability to mold any material with his bare hands to create and display his¬†art. Once the 200 days are up, so is David’s time on this earth.

After making this agreement David meets a young woman named Meg. Her outlook on life is open and inspiring and David falls in love with her almost instantly. Now he is faced with the dilemma of how best to spend the days he has left – creating the art he feels called to create or relishing in the presence of the woman who has changed his life.

The Sculptor grabbed me quickly. Not only did I appreciate the story but I appreciated McCloud’s artistic approach with this graphic novel. Knowing how he approaches his craft really encourages you to pay that much more attention to the graphic elements in the book.

Books · Julia P · Memoir · Non-Fiction

How to Be a Heroine | by Samantha Ellis

How to be a Heroine

How to Be a Heroine: Or, What I’ve Learned from Reading Too Much
by Samantha Ellis
(Vintage, 2015, 264 pages)

In How to Be a Heroine¬†Samantha Ellis takes a journey through the books, and more specifically the heroines, that spoke to her growing up. I’m going to take a page from Theresa’s book and share the Amazon summary of this title below. I enjoyed the book, especially when reading about Ellis’s experience with books that I love (Anne of Green Gables, Gone with the Wind…). How to Be a Heroine¬†is part memoir part literary criticism and it made me want to revisit books from my past to see how I respond to them as an adult.

While debating literature‚Äôs greatest heroines with her best friend, thirtysomething playwright Samantha Ellis has a revelation‚ÄĒher whole life, she’s been trying to be Cathy Earnshaw of¬†Wuthering Heights when she should have been trying to be Jane Eyre.

With this discovery, she embarks on a retrospective look at the literary ladies‚ÄĒthe characters and the writers‚ÄĒwhom she has loved since childhood. From early obsessions with the March sisters to her later idolization of Sylvia Plath, Ellis evaluates how her heroines stack up today. And, just as she excavates the stories of her favorite characters, Ellis also shares a frank, often humorous account of her own life growing up in a tight-knit Iraqi Jewish community in London. Here a life-long reader explores how heroines shape all our lives.