Saturday, January 28, 2012

Margaret Sanger: A Life of Passion

by Jean H. Baker, 349 p.

Talk about fascinating cultural figure.  I learned more about Mrs. Sanger in this book than in my whole life.  I really do recommend this biography to anyone, despite any preconceived opinions you may have on the subject matter.

Winter Town

by Stephen Edmond, 336 p.

I'm a sucker for love stories and old friends.  I can't help it.  I blame it ALL on Anne of Green Gables.  Home girl messed me up for life, crazy red-haired minx.

Moving on...

Evan waits all year for his best and oldest friend, Lucy, to come to town for winter break.  This year is different, or at least Lucy is.  Through a shared secret world and a shared storied past, Evan and Lucy try to figure out what exactly they want to be and who they are in the span of one week.

This is seriously a perfect book.  Seriously.  The gay best friends, the tortured soul, the aspiring comic book writer, snow....  Stephen Edmond, you best be cranking these puppies out.  You capture a teen voice and state of mind so perfectly.  Thanks!


by Craig Thompson, 655 p.

This was so beautiful and terrifying that I'm not even sure where to begin.  It's the story of Dodola and Zam trying to survive in a world so tied to ours yet so very far away.  It's intricate, moving, and brilliant - everything I've come to love about Craig Thompson.

It's quite the behemoth at 655 pages, but the story flows so smooth and quick.  It was impossible to put down.

Bake Sale

by Sara Varon, 160 p.

The mixture of my love of comics and baked goods collided when this hit my desk.  I literally can't get enough of Cupcake and Eggplant and their lovely adventures in the world of NYC bakeries.  Best part? The recipes for Cupcake's baked goods are included in the book and are beautifully illustrated (take that, Food Britannia).

Oh, how I want to see more adventures of Cupcake and Eggplant!!!

Food Britannia

by Andrew Webb, 544 p.

Despite the fact that it wasn't what I expected (a cookbook with beautiful glossy pictures), it was still a pretty cool book.  Explore the world of British cuisine, from fish and chips to cheese to porridge and everything in between.  It's Alton Brown + geography lesson + food porn.  Now if only there were a companion cookbook.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?

by Mindy Kaling, 222 p.

I WANT TO BE MINDY KALING'S BEST FRIEND.  I swear, I feel like Mindy and I could be bosom friends (Anne of Green Gables? Anyone?), which makes the conversational tone of the book pure gold.  Stories from 'The Office' writer and actress range take us through her childhood to the present and keep readers laughing the whole time.  Yes, this is a rave.  But how could it not be?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

"Clockwork Prince" by Cassandra Clare

502 pages

In the hidden magical world of Victorian London, Tessa Gray has finally found safety with the Shadowhunters. On the downside, her brother, Nathan, has betrayed the group to the Magister and remains missing. Then things get worse when the powers that be in the Clave plan to have Charlotte replaced as head of the Institute. If that happens, Tessa will be put out on the street and easy prey for the Magister, who wants to use her powers for evil. Charlotte and the Shadowhunters are given a test: find the Magister within two weeks, or she will lose the Institute to her rival, Benedict Lightwood, who seems to be more concerned with his own mysterious agenda than the welfare of the Clave. As if the challenge wasn't difficult enough, it appears that the Shadowhunters have yet again been betrayed by someone within their ranks.

I can't get enough of the Infernal Devices series! I love the world Clare has created, with the magic and funky steampunk elements. The characters are probably what really has me hooked, though. The bad ones are so easy to hate, the good guys are so lovable, and there are plenty who fall somewhere in the middle, which I like because that's how real life is. I'm not so thrilled about the Will-Tessa-Jem love triangle, though. I am Team Will all the way, especially after reading this second book and learning some pretty important things about his background that explain some of the less-than-wonderful aspects of his personality. I adore Jem too, of course, but I just think Will and Tessa belong together. The fact that I care so much says a lot, as I usually don't really get so into the romantic aspects of books. I don't know how I'm going to wait until November for the third title in the series.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Maltese Falcon

The Maltese Falcon
by Dashiell Hammett
217 pages

Sam Spade is a private detective in San Francisco during the 1910's or 1920's.  The action starts when "Miss Wonderly" hires Spade's partner to tail somebody.  As the story unfolds, Miss Wonderly's story continues to change, and people are killed.  A treasure is at stake, and Spade must navigate the treacherous dealings of all involved. 

This is widely considered a classic.  It was different from most books I've read because the narrator stuck strictly to the facts.  The narrator only described setting and told you what people said.  The narrator did not give any special insight into any of the character's thoughts and feelings.  This leaves a lot to the imagination, but it can also be frustrating.  You are always left guessing as to what is really going on in the characters' hearts and minds.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Between Boyfriends Book

The Between Boyfriends Book
Cindy Chupack
159 pages

"The Between Boyfriends Book: A Collection of Cautiously Hopeful Essays" is by Cindy Chupack, a writer for Sex and the City.  The essays are observations Cindy has made about being single and dating, and they are all DEAD ON.  I loved this book because she hit every nail on the head and it was a book I could totally relate to, even though she is at least 10 years older than me.  I would definitely recommend this book for all of us single ladies.  In fact, I'm calling it the *unofficial* Single Girl bible. Love love loved it. Here are some of my fave observations: 

*Lone Rangered: to have had a relationship end in a mysterious and annoying way--with no goodbye, no answers, just the vague feeling that you have no idea who that man is.

*Relationship Equivalency Exam: A test that would allow you to earn credit for past dating experience so you could pick up a new relationship where the old one left off.

*Imposter Complex: What a relationship columnist might feel when she is not currently in a relationship, has not been able to maintain a relationship, does not have any prospects for a new relationship, nor does she seem to have a funny term for this predicament. 

*Carmunication: The language used by fathers when communicating with their adult daughters, basically consisting of the phrase, "How's the car?"

*Do Not Resuscitate Romance (DNRR) Order: A directive that you are not, under any circumstances, allowed to revive or "restart the heart" of a past relationship

And those are just the titles of a few essays. So you KNOW the essays are going to be good. Also, the author is a Midwestern girl, so she doesn't have the jaded outlook that some big city girls might have.

I can't say enough good things about this book. If you're a single lady, please go read it. You'll relate to all of the observations, and you might even be able to look at a situation in a new way. 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

How To Be Single

How To Be Single
Liz Tuccillo
354 pages

“How To Be Single” is a fiction novel about Julie, a writer who travels around the world interviewing single women to see how women in other cultures know “how to be single”.  Along the way, she falls in love, gets her heart broken, watches her friends fall in love and have their hearts broken, blah blah blah.

I read this book because 1) it was by a writer of my fave show (Sex and the City) and one of my fave books (He's Just Not That Into You), and 2) I’ve been single going on 2 years now, and I was curious as to whether this books would have any tips on “how to be single” that I hadn’t thought of before.

Of course, the characters are in their 30s and single in New York City, where as I am in my 20s and single in Missouri. So not quite the same dating game, but *maybe* the rules could still apply.

Some of the events in the book are pretty farfetched, but it's still a good read. And it's pretty interesting what "being single" means to women in other cultures.

The book is a little too long (by about 100 pages) but I would still recommend it. 

"A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" by Betty Smith

528 pages

This classic novel chronicles the life of young Francie Nolan as she grows up in the slums of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, NY, in the early 20th century. The rest of her family consists of her mother, Katie, a practical woman who works tirelessly for her children; her father, Johnny, a warm, friendly dreamer who makes wonderful plans that are ruined by his alcoholism; her younger brother, Neeley, who shares her childhood adventures. Young Francie seems to have traits of both her parents: in many ways she is logical, like her mother, but she is also a dreamer like her father. More than anything else, Francie wants to get an education so she can become someone important. No matter how many obstacles get in her way, Francie perseveres. As she tells Francie's story, the author paints a vivid picture of life in Brooklyn during the early 20th century.

For a long time, this book was on my Librarian's List of Shame. Honestly, I avoided reading it because I thought it would be long and dull because whenever I heard it described there didn't seem to be much action. I was totally wrong about it being boring, though! Even though it's driven by the characters rather than the plot, it never felt tedious. There are plenty of little interesting stories throughout the book, and the characters come to life extremely well. Even though my situation was very different from Francie's when I was growing up, I still totally related to her. I think anyone who struggles to find their place in the world and fit in with their peers will find a connection with A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.