Thursday, February 21, 2019

Book Reviews - Throwbacks, Captivating Characters, and Change Agents

Well, hello there! For this round of reads, three of the four were "blind dates" with books, and the other book in the quartet was a new release from the library. Now a week into the blind dating experiment, I have to say I really like it! I still have that innate want to have that power to pick what's next, but then I just start reading, and I quickly change my tune.

First up, I read Help! I'm a Prisoner in the Library by Eth Clifford. This was a book my husband found for me in my recent quest to rediscover the trade paperback gems of my youth. For a gal like me (as both a kid and now), getting stuck in the library would be a dream, so this is my kind of read. The premise of this one is there's a snowstorm, and Mary Rose and Jo-Beth manage to get stranded in a library. Through the night, they navigate the unfamiliar space eventually finding the library's caretaker who has a residence in the building. From a nostaglia end, this was great. These are the types of fiction reads I loved as a kid, so it was fun to go back in time and read on that level. 

Read this book if - You read this as a kid and want to re-read and/or want to think about being stuck in a library as a kiddo.

Britt-Marie was Here by Fredrik Backman was just outstanding writing. This is my third book by this author, and I love his books. He has a way of writing characters that makes them so incredibly captivating as he centers these humans in the stories he writes. In this one, Britt-Marie has recently left her cheating husband. She's out to find a job to claim some space and show that she is as the title states here. She takes on a job in a small down as the caretaker of a recreation center. From there, the story is about Britt-Marie (re)finding her way. The job isn't a perfect fit for Britt-Marie, but she tries her hardest to figure it out and help those she comes in contact with in Borg. I absolutely loved how Britt-Marie's story was told on this journey. She's at a unique place in her life, and the way she connects and navigates Borg is wonderfully told. She definitely doesn't have all the answers, but I love how she seeks them out. At the end of the day, she just wants something to leave her mark on the world, and the way this was framed was so relatable and hit me right in the feels. Again, Backman is just masterful at storytelling. This is another gem of a read by him that you should definitely add to your list.

Read this book if - You like character-driven stories. You like books that are well-written. You are a fan of Backman and haven't read this yet.

Parkland: Birth of a Movement by Dave Cullen is a beautiful and heartbreaking read. For context on my own perspective, Columbine happened my sophomore year of high school. It is a defining event of that time for me, as it changed so much of how I viewed safety and school. It's hard that this next generation has to have these same happenings impact their experience. In his book on Columbine, Cullen focuses more on the actual event, while this book very much explores the after. In the the moments after this tragedy, a group of students decided they wanted to make change happen. In their grieving and stress and anger, they committed to having their voices heard. Cullen follows this experience as they mobilize and strategize. In addition to making change, they're navigating the emotions of the experience, as well as still being teenagers and high school students. Cullen does a masterful job in telling this story. They bring such drive and determination to the cause, even as they encounter obstacles, hope remains. 

Read this book if - You want an authentic look into the work and people involved with March For Our Lives. 

Lost and Found by Carolyn Parkhurst was a book I actually first read about a decade ago. In my "blind dates with books" project, I decided to throw in a few books for a re-read. This book revolves around the reality show Lost & Found which is a lot like The Amazing Race. I have a long-standing love of reality television, especially those that are adventure/challenge-based, so I was all about this. The focus of this one is not so much the game, but the complex relationships of the players. Told through a variety of narrators, it explores the secrets different players hold. As the game evolves, these secrets play more of a role in the team dynamics. For me, this read just like watching a reality television which I really dug. It had lots of twists and turns throughout the stories of those who are playing the game.

Read this book if - You want a fictional read focused on reality television.

Onto my dates/reads!