The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

4 stars Fiction

I love a great cover and I feel that this one definitely has one. This novel sounded interesting yet when I first started to read it, I was a bit confused.  With alternating time periods and a variety of characters, it took a bit for me to get everything straightened around.  As the story began to take shape, I soared through the pages.  

Meeting Jonathan, I thought he was one of those individuals who was too-big-for-his-britches (I think I’m beginning to sound like my grandmother now).  He came off as being too sophisticated and suave and he was using that to his advantage.  I know some people like these types of people but me, I run the other way.  Anyways, Jonathan owns the Hotel Caiette which is a 5-star hotel and I thought he basically, used this hotel as bait.

Jonathan, claiming to produce high results in the finance world, begins to climb up the ladder and build-up his clientele with his former bartender, Vincent on his arm.  Afterall, he needs to keep up his image, when dealing with high-end clients. 

As Vincent places the ring on her finger, she’s ready to step into some new shoes and get out from behind the bar at Hotel Caiette.  The commitments that they made to each other had me shaking my head. It made me wonder if I would do what she did, was it really worth it?

I don’t know much about Ponzi schemes but Jonathan sure is a smooth operator as he works the players.  He has quite a few individuals working beside him, making everything run smoothly and it made me wonder who knew what he had up his sleeve.

From making drinks to wearing elegant evening gowns, Vincent’s jump in social class is quite an adjustment for her and one that I’m not sure she enjoyed every day. I enjoyed it when she was able to be herself.

As I get further into the book, each page that I turned, I wonder if and when, things would go sour.  I was just waiting for the ball to drop.

I want to thank Knopf Books and Goodreads for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  I won this book in a Goodreads Giveaway.

The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes

5 stars Historical Fiction

This was an excellent audio to listen to. I couldn’t understand why I was able to get the audio right off the shelf at the library while the list to obtain the physical book was miles long. Although there were a lot of discs, the novel went quickly. Before reading this novel, I wondered if this book was going to be like The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek that I had previously read and loved, since they sounded similar in nature. What I found after I read this book was, although they were similar, it was the women in each story that made the two books different.  

I really enjoyed Margery in this story.  This woman had some spit fire in her. I loved her spunk from the minute I heard her speak. I wondered if somewhere, down the road in my listening of these discs, if something would backfire and she would pay for her outspoken personality.  Afterall, considering where she was, this time in history, and her being a woman, she really was an outstanding individual. Margery was her own person; she wasn’t concerned about what others thought or said.  Margery did what she thought needed to done.  I loved how Margery encouraged the women who supported the library and how she brought all the women together.

As the women brought the books to their patrons who lived out on the mountains, they were bringing more than just books to them.  I could feel the love, compassion, and companionship that their visits provided as I listened to the author’s words.  

As the women gathered for their “library meetings,” a big grin came across my face as I wondered exactly what they would be discussing today. No topic was dismissed as their meetings became more personal and entertaining each time they met.  Was it actually an official meeting or a girl’s night out, back at the meeting house as they met and chatted?  

I was delighted as to how much these women had grown during these 11 discs.  When they first came together, they thought of this as only a job but as I put in each disc, what this position became, was much more.  This became one of those books where I didn’t want it to end.

This book wasn’t all about women either.  Relationships both sweet and sour entered the picture from the sounds coming from the next room, to crushes, to the way individuals began to soften around the edges when certain others were around.  Some men also voiced their opinion about the library and about the women working in it.  You can imagine how that went down.

It was an entertaining and fast novel to listen to and I highly recommend it.

Lenny the Lobster Can't Stay For Dinner by Finn Buckley

5 stars Children’s

This is a cute book and I liked how the book was written, by a father and son team when the son was seven.  How cute is that? The story is written with two different endings and the reader gets to decide which ending they want to read. I liked the simplicity of the book yet, if you know nothing about eating lobster, I think you will have a hard time understanding the book.  It’s a fun story and I enjoyed it.

The story is about a lobster named Lenny who is thrilled to be invited to a dinner party.  Lenny, makes the perfect dinner guest, as when dressing for the party, he gets all snazzy and he brings gifts for everyone he thinks might be attending.

Arriving at the party, everyone is excited to see Lenny, perhaps too excited (you have to see the illustrations- they were hilarious!). They even offered Lenny a gift, which he was not expecting. At this point, Lenny should be questioning exacting what kind of party this is.  His gift can actually take on different meanings. Is Lenny optimistic or doesn’t he understand?  This begins the twist in the story. 

Before you go any further in Lenny’s story, you have to decide whether Lenny should stay or leave the dinner party.  Should he stay for the rest of the evening or should he turn around and walk out the door?

I, my friends, had Lenny walking out the door!  These people do not look very friendly towards poor Lenny, and he was really looking for a good time at this party.  To have Lenny leave the party, I had to move forward in the book to a different page.  How fun is this?  If I had chosen to have Lenny stay at the party, I would have just continued reading.

I liked how this book all came together.  It was a fun read and I really enjoyed the illustrations.  I thought the language was entertaining and children will enjoy it.  I like how there were only two options and I can see how this book would give children the idea of creating their own books based n this idea.  I think children who understand about lobsters will enjoy this book.

Little Doctor and the Fearless Beast by Sophie Gilmore

5 stars Children’s

Wow, the cover of this book doesn’t give this book the justice it deserves, I don’t think.  The story inside is breathtaking.  I had feared the worst but I knew it couldn’t be that bad considering it was a children’s book but this story had me.  It’s a charming, tantalizing story that will pull you in.

Deep in the jungle there lives Little Doctor who cares for the crocodiles that come to her.  Her pay?  Tales.  The crocodiles tell her amazing stories of escapes, horrible dangers and troubles that amaze Little Doctor. 

One day while working, one of the stories that she had heard arrived outside her door. SURPRISE! It was the biggest crocodile in the land! Only today, the mouth of this beast had its mouth clamped shut. He needs her help.

As Little Doctor went to work examining the Big Mean, the legend followed the doctor’s every move with its eyes, as she tried to find out what is wrong with the beast.  Boy, Little Doctor is a very good and fearless doctor!  When she goes to take her temperature, she is met with resistance.  Over and over again, she tries to get the large monster to open its mouth but she refuses. How can she finish her examination and found out what is wrong with Big Mean if she can’t take her temperature?  How can she get Big Mean to open her mouth? 

I liked the suspense and the mystery in this picture book.  You know there has to be a reason why Big Mean won’t open her mouth but what is it?  How can Little Doctor get a huge crocodile to open its mouth? The persistence of Little Doctor is great and I liked her facial expressions.  The illustrations are wonderful, as they are full of imagination.  Makes you wonder why we all didn’t become vets like we wanted to when we were little.

The Love Letter by Anika Denise

5 stars Picture Book

What a sweet book! I loved how just this one love letter changed the lives of so many animals.

When Hedgehog finds a letter on the ground, he picks it up.  After reading it, he discovers it’s not just any letter, it’s a love letter and he believes that it’s been left for him.  Immediately, his mood changes and he’s having a great day.  After being a loving and helpful friend, the letter is accidentally dropped and picked up by one of his friends.

When Bunny finds the love letter, she believes that Hedgehog left it for her and she too changes just like Hedgehog did. Isn’t that the way it goes, though?  When you feel loved and appreciated, you feel great and helpful and feel like you’re walking on the clouds?

Bunny ends up accidentally dropping the letter also and the letter makes it rounds amongst the friends until all of them get it.  What a great day it was!   The next morning, as the friends gather again, they get a surprise when they discover who wrote the letter and who they wrote it to.

I loved how the illustrations matched the tone of the book.  They were soft and not loud; they complimented the text.  It’s a sweet book about friendship and family: about what really matters and how you should be about treating others.  Really a good book to have.   

Instructions by Neil Gaiman

4 stars Children’s

I had to read this book twice to fully appreciate it. The first time through, I think I got half the messages that this book wanted me to get. It also a book that I couldn’t rush through but I had to stop and fully absorb what I read on each page. The illustrations stopped me in my tracks a few times, as I thought they really didn’t match what I thought should go with the words on the page nevertheless, I enjoyed what I read. This book to me was a words-of-wisdom book as each page(s) was about making your way in the world.

The illustrations were just as great as the words in this book. They were fun to look at as they contained a lot of detail and there was the fantasy aspect of them. How can you go wrong with trolls, cats, and beasts? Written by Neil Gaiman, this is what brought me to pick up this one.

The Witch Boy by Molly Knox Ostertag

5 star Graphic Novel

The cover of this graphic novel caught my attention while I was volunteering at the library and somehow, it made its way into my car. I love how these things happen yet; it pushes the other books I want to read further behind. A witch boy. The title was interesting as I always thought that boys who were witches were called warlocks, at least that is what I remember from the show, Bewitched. The illustration on the cover is fascinating too. The boy seems to be doing something secretive, crouching in a corner, candles burning, reading a book. That look on his face, it’s as if he’s been caught or hears something. Then, there’s that shadow peering down over him. Yep, that dragon doesn’t look like the friendly type.

Magic is in Aster’s blood. Boys grow-up to be shapeshifters and girls grow-up to be witches and that’s how it has always been. There’s a whisper amongst their family, about how one member of their family defied the system and the price that he paid for it.

Aster would rather spy on the girls and learn witchcraft than be a shapeshifter. He knows he’s not supposed to practice the craft, he’s heard what has happened in the past, yet this doesn’t stop him. He wants to see if he can actually cast one of the spells that he has overheard.

The illustrations in this book are wonderful. The big text boxes with their bright colors, look amazing on the glossy pages. I was immediately draw in as this story moves quickly along as Aster temptation gets the best of him and he tries to cast his first spell.

Realizing that he’s now good at something, he needs to keep this a secret. I liked how he met Charlie and how they developed their friendship. I enjoyed how they fit together and that things didn’t escalade between the two of them. I loved how Aster continued to spy on the girls repeatedly, even though he kept getting caught. It was comical how persistent he was in learning more about witchcraft, all the while he was trying to be a shapeshifter.

The story picked up speed when one of the shapeshifter boys comes up missing and no one can locate him. Aster believes that he can find him BUT he must use the witchcraft that he knows, to do so.

It was a fun, entertaining read and I’m glad that it found its way into my car. I found out that this is a series, so I will be looking for the other books in this series.

Go With the Flow by Lily Williams & Karen Schneemann

5 stars Middle School/YA

I also found this book while volunteering at the library and I’m glad that I picked this one up. Now, I know graphic novels touch on a variety of subject matter but this subject matter is a first for me in a long while (thank you, Judy Blume). As I read this book, the first thought I had was, where was this graphic novel when I was younger?

In this graphic novel, a small group of high school friends come together to provoke a change. Abby, the artist in the group, is preparing for the chance to have a display in an upcoming exhibit in the library. The show features feminist voices and activism. Abby doesn’t realize it but today, marks the beginning of her display.

The three girls find Sasha, a new student, in the hallway needing assistance. The girls immediately sweep in, take her under their wings like good Samaritans, and usher her into the bathroom. They’re nice and honest with her and they don’t leave Sasha until things are under control. It’s now that Abby discovers the injustice that marks the beginning of her art display and the movement that she leads with her friends. As Sasha tries to cope with what has happened to her, the girls try to resolve the issue(s) that they no longer want to ignore.

The three girls welcomed Sasha to their group immediately and they come together to try to change the way that their school handles an issue that has been ignored for quite some time. While this task is underway, the girls talk freely about menstruation. This talk is not restricted, they are very open and sincere, they cover quite a few important issues surrounding this topic, issues that aren’t just mentioned but provide great detail and meaning. I loved the honesty and the emotions that came through this graphic novel. No one held back as they provided feedback or told their own stories as each topic was discussed.

This is an important graphic novel, one that covers a subject some individuals find hard to talk about. Why, it’s hard to discuss? There are a lot of different reasons but in honesty, it’s a topic that should be discussed more openly and honesty. I know, they show the movies and have the discussions at school, but to have a fictional graphic novel that covers this topic, in detail like this one does, is fantastic! Kiddos, to the author for writing such a great book. I highly recommend it.

Maybe He Just Likes You by Barbara Dee

4.5 stars Middle School

As Callum bowed, he extended his hand towards Mila and he touched her.  He really did.  He touched her sweater again; Mila was sure of it.  Claiming it was Leo’s birthday, Mila gave him a hug, an innocent hug. It was the words that left his mouth that told her that she had been deceived.  Mila feels alone, why was this happening to her and how can she stop it?

Confiding with her closest friends, Mila finds that their reactions are different which then, play a significant role in their friendship.  It was the action that a few of Mila friends do, after Mila talked with them, that I couldn’t believe they actually did.  What kind of “friends” were they?  Trying to find an adult to talk to, was difficult.  Oh why, did this have to be so hard?

This is a great book that addresses sexual harassment at the middle school level.  If it doesn’t feel right, it isn’t right and it should stop.  If you need to talk to someone, find someone, anyone and the sooner the better.  Telling someone to stop, doesn’t always work.  This book needs to be read by everyone.

Hill Women by Cassie Chambers

4 stars Nonfiction

Just outside Owsley County, you’ll discover this narrow, gravel road that’ll lead you straight down into a holler, that’s surrounded by trees. That’s Cow Creek. It’s almost hidden, this small community in Kentucky.  This is why Cassie Chambers wanted to get the word out about the women in this area before they are forgotten and also, to make this area more visible to the public.  This area was home to Cassie before she headed off to college to become a lawyer.  I really enjoyed this book as Cassie told us about her family, herself, and this small community.  

Cassie decided to practice law in rural Kentucky to make a difference.  Wanting to represent women who couldn’t afford an attorney, Cassie headed to her hometown where, she knew that her services were needed.

Cassie’s story is personal as she serves her community.  She makes a lot of interesting points in this book but there was one that I remembered reading early, that stayed with me as I read the rest of the book.  This comment was about education in this area.  She mentioned that the men in this area, don’t see education as important for anyone.  Why?  Because for one, the men have all the opportunities that are available in the area so why would they need an education? Two: if a woman should get an education, that would change the opportunities that would be available to her (indicating a bad idea).  For everyone knows that the only job that a woman should have, is their own home.  How interesting is that?

With this way of thinking, the abuse, the seclusion, and the poverty, I felt deeply for these women and grateful that Cassie chose to come home to help them.

This is Cassie’s story, a tribute to the amazing women who raised her.  It was an interesting story and I enjoyed reading about Cassie’s life.