Star Trek: Starfleet Academy by Mike Johnson and Ryan Parrott; art by Derek Charm
(IDW Publishing, 2016, 120 pages)
Star Trek: Starfleet Academy follows three stories in different time periods. One story features Uhura, Spock, and Kirk from the new Star Trek films. Uhura and Kirk are students at the Academy, while Spock is an instructor. Another story introduces us to a new diverse group of Starfleet Academy students, including one from Vulcan, who participate as a team in an Olympic-like competition. The final story focuses on a Starfleet ship that is lost in space. The stories intertwine in an interesting way. I highly recommend this graphic novel to both teens and adults.
Champion of a Cause: Essays and Addresses on Librarianship by Archibald MacLeish
(American Library Association, 1971, 248 pages)
Archibald MacLeish, the Pulitzer Prize winning poet, playwright, journalist, and lawyer, served as the Librarian of Congress from 1939-1944. Though he had no previous experience as a librarian, MacLeish did a lot to shape modern librarianship in these years. In the lead up to WWII, he cast librarians as defenders of democracy and the culture of freedom against European fascism. This political stance infused a sense of activism that has come to be a defining aspect of librarianship. This collection brings together MacLeish’s essays and speeches on librarianship.
In addition to writing about how libraries support the democratic process, MacLeish also gives a detailed (and frankly pretty boring) description of the massive reorganization of the Library of Congress, which he oversaw. He also writes about the plans that the Library made to preserve important books and artifacts in the event of an attack on the capital. Between helping to define the role of librarians and modernizing the operations of the nation’s foremost library, MacLeish made a remarkable impact on American libraries in a very short amount of time. The final few address were given in the 1950s and 60s, well after MacLeish had left the position of Librarian. In these, MacLeish speculates on the future of libraries in ways that are still relevant today.
This collection of essays and addresses is fascinating, both for what it reveals about the development of the profession and as an example of how people in government positions reacted to and prepared for America’s involvement in WWII. MacLeish is also an excellent writer, which makes these essays that much more enjoyable.
Jane Re by Patricia Park
(Pamela Dorman Books, 2015, 352 pages)
Jane Re is a modern retelling of Jane Eyre. Jane Re is a Korean-American orphan living with her aunt, uncle, and cousins in Flushing, Queens. Jane is constantly given a hard time because of her lineage – her American father is something of a sore subject. After graduating from college, getting a job in the financial sector and then losing that job Jane doesn’t know how much longer she can stand to be surrounded by her family. That’s when her friend Eunice shows her a help wanted listing for an au pair in Brooklyn. Jane hesitantly decides to apply and then finds herself receiving the offer to come and live with the Farley family.
While living with the Farleys Jane finds herself falling for the father, Ed, and he for her. When it seems that they’re destined to move forward with their affair a familial obligation, combined with a life-changing event, result in Jane spontaneously leaving New York and going to Korea. This time among other members of her extended family takes Jane down a different path and she’s not quite sure where she really belongs and/or if Ed is the man for her.
I really liked Park’s reimagining of the classic Bronte novel. It was just the kind of reading experience I was looking for. If you’re a Jane Eyre fan I think you’ll appreciate this book.
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
(Viking, 2012, 369 pages)
Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl who comes from a close family. She has the financial responsibility to provide for them and when the only place she has ever worked, the Buttered Bun, decides to close their doors, she is forced to find work outside of her comfort zone. She takes on a job as a caretaker to a man named Will Traynor. Will is quadriplegic because of motorcycle accident. The two of them couldn’t have less in common. She lives a simple life and is a caring person who is devoted to her family. Will is a wealthy young man who is used to being in control of everything in his life and when it was taken away in the blink of an eye, he became hateful of his life and everyone in it.
It does have some predictable paths but it think Me Before You was beautifully written. Moyes has the ability to get you to really know her characters so they become real and unforgettable. Coming from worlds apart, it was so enjoyable to watch the relationship of Will and Louisa grow into the truest form of love.
Jojo Moyes does an exceptional job writing about a controversial subject with fairness and respect. Her execution of the end was incredible. It forces you to think about how you value life and also how beautiful it is to have someone in your life who makes it worth getting up every morning. From heartbreaking to heartwarming and laughing through tears, this is one of the most emotional books I have read in a long time. I can’t wait to get my hands on After You (book #2).
You can also check out reviews of this title from Sadie and Julia.
The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House by Kate Andersen Brower
(Harper, 2015, 309 pages)
The Residence is a New York Times bestseller written by Kate Andersen Brower. This nonfiction book reveals a look at the various staff who worked in the White House during the Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Reagan, Clinton, and Obama administrations. The staff are the only constant in the White House. Administrations come and go, but some White House staff serve 20, 30, 40, or even 50 years. The jobs are not advertised. Positions are normally filled by family and friends of the current or former staff.
There are many interesting stories in this book. There is the story of the day that Kennedy was shot. Jacqueline Kennedy returned home from Dallas early the next morning still in her pink outfit covered in President’s Kennedy’s blood. Mrs. Kennedy said that she didn’t want to change until she got home because she wanted the world to see what had happened to her husband. There is also a story about the 9/11 attacks. The White House staff were evacuated because it looked like the White House could be a target.
While the book is repetitious, I did enjoy reading it. Brower did hundreds of interviews to tell this story. The staff members of the “Residence” are portrayed as dedicated employees who can do their jobs and keep the secrets of the families who live in the White House.
Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld
(Random House, 2016, 492 pages)
This modern interpretation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice was really enjoyable. Set primarily in Cincinnati. Liz Bennett and her older sister Jane return home from Manhattan to help out as their father recovers from a heart attack. While they’re at home they are introduced to two new doctors who have recently moved to the area. One, Chip Bingley, was a former contestant on the television show “Eligible” (a play on “The Bachelor”) and he is quickly taken with Jane. The other is Fitzwilliam Darcy, a neurosurgeon who Liz instantly dislikes.
The three younger Bennett sisters all have their own issues they’re dealing with. They’ve managed to stay at home living rent-free at their parent’s estate. Now that Liz has returned home, however, it becomes increasingly clear that the Bennett family is going to have to make some serious changes due to their new financial circumstances. As Liz struggles to keep her family afloat (with little to no help from anyone else) she keeps running into Darcy. Could there be something behind the negative interactions they constantly seem to have…?
This was a fun book that read really quickly thanks to Sittenfeld’s writing and the short chapters that make up the book. If you’re a Jane Austen fan you’ll enjoy this retelling. If you’re just looking for a good summer read, Eligible covers the bases. Plus, Sittenfeld is a local St. Louis author (and her other novels are great)!
Crazy for Love by Victoria Dahl
(HQN Books, 2010, 376 pages)
I’m a Victoria Dahl fan so I figured I’d pick up one of her books as a light read while traveling. If you’re a romance fan who appreciates a steamy read that also has some humor mixed in, you’ll enjoy reading Dahl’s work. This wasn’t necessarily my favorite of her romances, but it fit the bill for the type of “confectionary” read I was looking for.
Chloe is trying to recover from the public humiliation of discovering that her fiance had faked his own death to get out of having to marry her. She has now been branded a Bridezilla and is trying to avoid the paparazzi until she has to go to trial. Chloe’s best friend, Jenn, decides to take her to an island off the coast of Virginia where they can lay low and try to recover without the prying eyes of reporters and their cameras. It’s while they’re on this island that they happen to meet two handsome brothers, Max and Elliot.
There’s definitely chemistry between Max and Chloe. She likes that he doesn’t know about her past… and the fact that he’s a handsome man who literally dives for buried treasure for a living doesn’t hurt either. But Max has a compulsion to protect the people around him and the carefree demeanor he tries to convey to the world isn’t true to the anxiety he’s always feeling. Chloe sees this and it’s as if Max can finally own up to his true self.
Chloe’s past eventually catches up with her and Max is forced to come to grips with the fact that this “normal” girl he’s falling for is turning out to be the type he typically ends up with; a woman with drama who needs to be rescued. Will they be able to see their way back to each other? Or were they destined to just be a beach-side romance?
Like I said, this is a light read and since it’s a romance, you know it’s going to go in a specific direction. This wasn’t as good as Dahl’s other work, which I really enjoy, but it was an entertaining low-key read if that’s what you’re looking for.