Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Book Reviews - Laughs and Compelling Characters

Well, well, well, once again we have a variety of reads. Some made me laugh, some made me cry, and in many instances those were the same book. What I really liked about this round was there was some amazing storytelling and some especially incredible characters. Read on to find out more!

The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles is a fascinating historical fiction piece focused on the American Library in Paris. I always appreciate a historical piece that exposes me to new pieces of history, and this was definitely that! This is story of how books played a central role in the resistance primarily focused on the story of a young library named Odile. In addition to telling the story of this past experience, this also includes a storyline in 1983. Lily doesn't understand her older neighbor. She seems to be hiding something, and Lily is a curious teenager who just wants to know more. She decides to do a school project on her, so she has to share her story. As you might infer, this neighbor has connections to the library. It's not revealed just what those connections are, so part of the captivating nature of this story is learning more about her through Lily's research. The past and (sort of) present have really emotional and compelling stories. I was so drawn into Odile and Lily's pieces of the story. In the past, it was so incredible to read how the library remained dedicated to sharing knowledge and truth even when it was dangerous. In the present, Lily is navigating so much "stuff" in addition to learning more about her neighbor, and I was so emotionally drawn into her reality. This was just a beautiful read in its characters and storytelling. Thanks to NetGalley for the early look at this February 2021 (Whoa, I did not realize publication was so far away!). Way, way in the future, this is a book you'll absolutely want to check out.

We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry was such a unique read y'all, and that was very much a good thing! The story focuses on the 1989 Danvers women's field hockey team based in Salem, Massachusetts. Tired of losing, the members decide it's time to call in some help to win in the form of magic/witchcraft. From there, the season begins to take some unique turns. This book was a delightful blend of late 80s references, humor, dark magic, and just really great storytelling. It's so unlike anything I've read, as well as a bit outside of what I normally read, but y'all, I was so darn captivated from beginning to end as the story is so creative and told masterfully I also loved the depth of story for each member of the team, as well as the diversity of their stories. It's hard to put words to a review for this one because it's so unlike anything I've read (and I know I've said this over and over), but this is one I read in a weekend because I just loved being whisked away to this pop-culture saturated, Emilio Estevez notebook inspired (yes, you read that right) magic world of high school girls!

Best Behavior by Wendy Francis was featured on a recent blog tour stop that you can see here!

The Hilarious World of Depression by John Moe is by the author who runs a podcast of the same name. Admittedly, I've heard of the podcast, but I haven't listened, so in some aspects, I feel like this was seeing a movie before reading a book! However, I also felt like this was a really good set-up for the backstory of the podcast to launch me into listening. Since I'm a non-listener I can only speak for sure from that perspective, however I do feel like regular listeners would also like this collection of stories. The book is really written as a memoir of life with mental health. I really love the way he talks about his experiences as it's a unique blend of humor and raw honesty. There were times I was laughing, as well as times I was teary. I found I could really connect to the way he talked about his mental health, and he gave language to this in a way that was relatable. In addition to being about his own journey and experiences, he also talks about his podcast. He talks about how it came to be, as well as messages from a variety of guests. I appreciated with this how it shows both variance and commonality in the experience of mental health struggles. As I said, I did things a little backwards in reading this first, but I also plan to now check out the podcast because I'm so drawn into the author's perspective and story! Thanks to St. Martin's for the advanced copy via Shelf Awareness!

Onto the next reads!