Paper Girls, Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan; illustrated by Cliff Chiang and Matthew Wilson
(Image Comics, 2016, 144 pages)
I grabbed this off the shelf at my public library because it caught my eye and I’d been wanting to check it out; especially since one of my co-workers, Kelly, was a fan of the series. Brian K. Vaughan, the author, is also the mastermind behind the graphic novel series Saga (which, if you haven’t read you’ve no doubt heard about). He has such a way with crafting stories that you’re always intrigued to see where he’s going to take you next. This remains the case in Paper Girls. It was so far from what I thought it was going to be… but it captured my interest and I’m so curious to see how he ends things!
Paper Girls, Vol. 1 takes place in the late 80s and introduces us to a group of four pre-teen girls who each have a newspaper delivery route. They meet up early in the morning on November 1 and notice that things are a little “off.” They try to get to the bottom of things but find they don’t really have any frame of reference for what’s going on. I saw a review that mentioned this would be an ideal read for fans of the Netflix show “Stranger Things.” I definitely agree.
Paper Girls, Vol. 2 by Brian K. Vaughan; illustrated by Cliff Chiang and Matthew Wilson
(Image Comics, 2016, 128 pages)
I can’t really say much about this one because I don’t want to ruin volume 1. Just know you’re following the girls as they continue on their journey to try and figure out what happened that fateful morning of November 1.
Sourdough by Robin Sloan
(MCD, 2017, 272 pages)
I enjoyed Sloan’s previous book, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, so when I heard that he had a new book coming out I immediately added it to my “to-read” list. Then it seemed like it was getting blurbed and buzzed about all over the place so I grabbed it off the shelf when I was at the public library (#librarylove). Sloan has a knack for writing unique books with a quirky twist and his sophomore novel only proved that.
Our protagonist is Lois, a software engineer whose life is pretty dull. She works and then she sleeps. Her job has gotten monotonous and she’s not really even seeking out pleasure in her life. But then one night she decides to try delivery from a “restaurant” in her neighborhood. It offers 3 things on the menu, a sandwich, soup, and then a combo called the “double spicy.” It’s as if the food changes her life. She starts ordering it every day and fosters something of a relationship with the two brothers who run the operation. When their visas expire and they have to leave, they make the decision to leave their sourdough starter with Lois, their “#1 eater.”
Lois has never made bread, but the responsibility of keeping the starter alive prompts her to start. At that point there’s no turning back. The bread is amazing and as she gradually introduces it to the people in her orbit she is encouraged to try selling it at the local farmers market. When she auditions for a spot she finds herself selected for an underground market that’s not open to the public. People are doing all kinds of experimental things with food down there… and her contribution is her sourdough (compliments of the unique starter that was gifted to her) and the robot arm she tries to program to help her make it.
It’s hard not to just try summarizing the book. But at the same time, the book isn’t the easiest to summarize. Sloan has a way of deconstructing our society and the things that fascinate us that intrigues you and keeps you reading. If you’re looking for an entertaining read Sloan is your guy. If you also happen to love reading about things that are food-related (which is ALWAYS me) you’re in for even more of a treat (and some sass toward “foodies”).
For a more in-depth breakdown of the book you can check out this review from the LA Times.
Ordinary Beast by Nicole Sealey
(Ecco, 2017, 64 pages)
I don’t remember what poem jumped out to me initially as I flipped through, but there was something about the language in this book that compelled me to check it out rather than allow it to be re-shelved. Sealey is the Executive Directer at the Cave Canem Foundation and I always try to stay on top of the poetry they spotlight and the prizes they award. A collection by the Executive Director was surely going to find a place in my hands.
Her work in Ordinary Beast was accessible, thoughtful, and creative. There were more than a few poems that I had to stop and reflect on. Not to mention Sealey’s poetry had me going out of my way to look things up so I could better understand various references and what she was trying to spotlight in some of her poems. When a poet can inspire you to delve deeper, you know you’re in good hands.
Wrong to Need You (Forbidden Hearts #2) by Alisha Rai
(Avon, 2017, 368 pages)
The second book in the Forbidden Hearts series focuses on Jackson and Sadia. Jackson is Livvy’s twin brother (from Hate to Want You) and Sadia is the widow of his older brother, Paul – yes, this is an interesting love “triangle.”
Jackson returned home to check on his sister after he worried she’d be hurt by Nicholas, again. This is the first time he’s stepped foot back in town since he was accused of arson. He didn’t even come back for his brother’s funeral. When Sadia realizes Jackson is home NOW she can’t believe it. Not only did he miss the funeral but he also hasn’t replied to any of the messages she has sent him over the past decade. They’d grown up together, been best friends, and then she couldn’t help but be hurt by his radio silence.
Jackson knows he hasn’t done right by Sadia and so he attempts to make amends by helping out in the cafe she runs on her own. The truth is, he’s been in love with her since high school and he had to bury his feelings when she married Paul. What neither he nor Sadia counted on was the strong attraction she would feel for him. It feels wrong lusting after her brother-in-law but there’s no denying the chemistry between them…
It was fun to be able to read this immediately after the first book in the series. I appreciate the connecting characters, though the books could feasibly stand alone. I wasn’t as invested in this title as the first one, but I still enjoyed it. And I’m obviously keeping up with the series. I’ll be pursuing Rai’s backlist next 😉
Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai
(Avon, 2017, 371 pages)
Nicholas and Livvy have established a one-night rendezvous every year for the past decade. That’s all they get – one night. Then they go back to not communicating until the following year. The two have a complicated past. They’d been high school sweethearts but a rift between their families forced them apart. When Livvy doesn’t show up for her standing date with Nicholas he’s not sure how to handle things. He’d been counting down the days each year until he got to be with her. Then he finds out she’s back in their hometown and he won’t be able to rest until he finds out why she stood him up.
Meanwhile, Livvy can’t really believe she’s back home. She has spent the past ten years wandering around the country. The only reason she’s back is because her mom is recovering from an injury and Livvy wants to be supportive. The last thing she wants is to run into Nicholas… so naturally, he puts himself right in her path.
Nicholas and Livvy struggle to find a way to coexist in the same town without giving in to lustful urges they know will eventually do more harm than good. Even with their families doing everything they can to keep them apart, it’s hard to ignore their attraction to one another…
This was my first time reading a book by Rai and I loved it! She was actually recommended as a contemporary romance author I might like by Victoria Dahl (whose romance novels I love). I appreciate the writing, the multicultural cast, and just hearing a new voice. I definitely recommend her. I’m about to start book 3 in the series 😉
The Light of the World by Elizabeth Alexander
(Grand Central Publishing, 2015, 209 pages)
This memoir about what it’s like to unexpectedly lose your husband was beautifully written, poignant, and heart-breaking. Alexander is a poet and that background shines through in the way she writes this memoir. Much like when you read poetry there would be sections of the book where I would finish and then just have to stop and reflect on what I’d read.
Even though the subject matter is sad it makes you appreciate the people you have in your life and the fact that no day is guaranteed to us. It also shines light on the fact that you WILL survive your grief. Just because someone is no longer physically beside us on this earth doesn’t mean their presence and the impact they had on your life disappears. It’s tragic, yes. But the fact that they have played a role in influencing the person you have become remains a beautiful thing to hold on to.
Idaho by Emily Ruskovich
(Random House, 2017, 320 pages)
Idaho was the January selection for a book club I’m a part of. Set in (surprise) Idaho we are brought into the world of Wade and Ann Mitchell. They’ve been married a few years, but Wade was married before and that marriage came to a tragic end. Since they’ve been together Ann has been trying to piece together more information about Wade’s life before her, but this grows harder with time since Wade is fighting early-onset dementia and his memory is quickly fading.
Ann’s struggle to uncover more of Wade’s past is only part of the story. Idaho jumps back in forth in both time and perspective. We see things from the point of view of a number of characters, including Wade’s ex-wife Jenny. This book keeps you reading because you want to learn more about what happened to its characters and see how they progress.
Ruskovich is a talented writer and I was always eager to get back to reading her work. Even though I didn’t think I was a fan of the way the book ended, the more I reflect on it the more sense it makes. This is a worthwhile read from a debut author.