dark placesDark Places by Gillian Flynn completes my mission to read all of Flynn’s work. Living in my own little bublle, I only became aware of Gillian Flynn as an author when Gone Girl became a movie. After it came out on DVD, I quickly checked it out and watched it, which lead me down a quick path to reading everything that Flynn has ever written (I’ve written blog posts about her other works, so search this blog for more info!).

Dark Places is a gripping piece of suspense fiction following the life of Libby Day, a thirty-one year old woman whose mother and two sisters were brutally murdered twenty-five years ago when Libby was just seven years old. Based on her testimony, Libby’s fifteen year old brother Ben was sentenced to prison for life for the murders. After a meeting with her trust fund manager, Libby, who has never worked a day, realizes that the public donations and life insurance money that she has been living off is almost gone. She has no idea what to do next.

A chance phone call from a man named Lyle, who is a member of the Kill Club, proves to be Libby’s somewhat salvation. The Kill Club is a club for people who are obsessed with murders, serial killers, violence, regular killers, and a wide variety of related subjects. She meets with the Kill Club and realizes that she can get them to pay her; the only caveat being that she has to dig into her brother Ben’s case and the murders of her family. Once she starts talking to people and answering the questions the Kill Club has for her, Libby starts questioning if what she thought she saw twenty five years ago was what actually happened. Did Ben really commit those heinous crimes? Or is someone else responsible. This book will have you sitting on the edge of your seat wondering what will happen next.

Dark Places was also made into a movie that came out in 2015 starring Charlize Theron as adult Libby Day. The library has this movie available in DVD and Blu-ray.


This book is also available in the following formats:

don't you cryDon’t You Cry is a psychological mysterious thriller. It falls along the same lines as Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, but I found the twists that happened in this book to be less predictable, at least to me. Let’s get down to the nitty gritty.

Don’t You Cry by Mary Kubica is a twisting tale of deception, obsession, strangers, friends, and missing people. Quinn Collins is a young woman living in downtown Chicago with her roommate, Esther Vaughan. Everything seems to be going perfectly fine in Quinn’s life until she wakes up one morning and discovered that Esther has disappeared from their apartment without a trace. reporting Esther as missing only results in Quinn being told that Esther will probably come back in 48-72 hours and she should just wait. Quinn decides to take matters into her own hands and goes through Esther’s room looking for any clues. What she finds there leads Quinn to question who Esther really is and where she has disappeared to.

Alex Gallo is an eighteen-year-old boy working at a coffee shop an hour outside Chicago. Alex lives in this small lake town with his alcoholic father across from an old abandoned house that everyone thinks is haunted. One day, a mysterious woman walks into the coffee shop and Alex finds himself drawn to her. Alex is quickly pulled into Pearl’s spell, feeding and clothing her even though he knows nothing about her. Alex gets closer and closer to Pearl and realizes that he actually knows almost nothing about the town that he lives in.

While Quinn searches for Esther and Alex tries to learn more about Pearl, there are other factors simmering in the background of the book that demand the readers attention. This book is told in alternating voices, a fact that I enjoyed since I listened to this book through OverDrive and was able to dive into the characters more. Mary Kubica does a fabulous job of weaving a missing person story with family drama, mysterious pasts, old ghost stories, and alternate life stories. The tension slowly lives under the surface of this book until the end when the narrative explodes. Highly recommended.


This book is also available in the following formats:

mother can you notIntroducing your parents or grandparents or even cousins or siblings to any new form of social media means that there is going to be a learning curve where mistakes are made and ridiculous things said. We’ve all been there. Before you bridge the social media gap however, there is one important step that needs to happen: text messaging. Author Kate Siegel’s mother is the queen of off-the-wall text messages, so much so that Kate decided to broadcast their most ridiculous conversations all over Instagram for everyone to see. (Want to follow their antics? Check out @crazyjewishmom on Instagram!)

Mother, Can you NOT? : And you thought your mother was crazy… follows Kate’s Siegel’s decision to broadcast her and her mother’s text messages online and the crazy journey it proved to be for her. This book is chock full of anecdotes featuring Kate’s mom and the conversation that she has with her on a daily basis.

Kate’s mother is the classic helicopter parent and you can even go as far as to call her a drone parent, which Kate certainly does. Kate’s mom is a hovering Jewish mother who only wants the best for her daughter and the best just happens to be married to a wealthy Jewish doctor and pregnant with his many children. Never mind the fact that for a long time, Kate was single and her boyfriends weren’t even Jewish. These are just unnecessary obstacles in Kate’s life that her mother knows all the solutions for: hanging out with the Princeton rabbi, going out even when you don’t want to, talking to a new doctor about sex when your mom is right in the room, etc. All perfectly normal things. This book is a very humorous and hilarious read chronicling the many adventures that Kate and her mother find themselves on and the many different ways all of our mother go on to help better their children’s lives even if their children’s don’t even ask for the help.

moon girl and devil dinosaurMarvel seems to be switching up plot lines every couple years, but the one that is all over my radar right now revolves around the inhumans. Do I have a basic understanding of what’s going on with the inhumans? Yes. Do I feel qualified to explain it to someone else? No, not really, but I can certainly muddle my way through and look up a good explanation. Since I’m not a fan of having to rely on something else to fill my knowledge holes, I decided to look up inhumans. I struck gold.

I discovered Moon Girl and the Devil Dinosaur, a juvenile Marvel graphic novel, about Lunella Lafayette, a preteen genius who also happens to be an inhuman. Lunella, aka Moon Girl, wants to change the world and is using her genius to create inventions that are helping her. Slight problem though. Ever since Lunella discovered that she has a latent inhuman gene, she’s been terrified of the terrigen mist cloud that is encroaching on New York City that will change her into something inhuman, something she isn’t even remotely prepared for. Lucky for Lunella because she has a plan. She has been chasing something called an omni-wave projector and she thinks she knows where it is.

Everything seems to be working out for Lunella until she finds the omni-wave projector and then a giant red-scaled beast, a devil dinosaur, is teleported from the pre-historic past to today! to a bustling New York City. With the devil dinosaur comes the Killer-Folk, prehistoric savages that want the Omni-wave projector too. Lunella finds herself battling monster hunters and the killer-folk at the same time as she is dealing with school and her parents. Getting into a good school and changing the world is proving to be more difficult than Lunella thought it would be!

keep-quietKeep Quiet by Lisa Scottoline is a gut-wrenching book that begins by introducing Jake Whitmore, his son Ryan, and Jake’s wife, Pam. Tensions seem to be running high in the Whitmore family, stemming from Jake’s loss of job a year ago. The family bore the brunt of his frustration and as a result, Ryan distanced himself from his father and became closer with his mother. Jake and Pam went into therapy to rebuild their relationship. Their current focus is on bringing Ryan and Jake closer together.

Jake is sent to pick up Ryan from the movies when they get into a car accident. This accident threatens the stability of their family and the tenuous relationships that hold them all together. Ryan’s future is on the line and in a split-second, Jake makes a decision that saves his son from a disastrous future. While at the time this seems like the best decision, it instead sends them both down a dark spiral of secrets, lies, and immense guilt. Jake thinks he has everything under control, but someone emerges from the woodwork with the power to destroy his carefully laid plans and expose Jake and Ryan’s dark secret. That life changing accident holds the power to destroy all their lives and Jake is struggling to hold the family together. This book is an intensely powerful guilt-laden journey into the lives of a family who are trying to redeem themselves while their whole world is unraveling around them.


This book is also available in the following formats:

Thanks to ALA, we’re focusing on books with diverse content and books with diverse authors this Banned Books Week, so we thought a blog post full of young adult books would be in order. There are lots of young adult books for us to choose today, so if we skipped your favorite, you may see it later this week or even way down at the bottom of this post in our extra bonus Banned Books reads.


miseducation-of-cameron-postMiseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth is a young adult novel that was released in 2014. This book centers around the life of Cameron Post. Cam’s parents die suddenly in a car crash and she finds herself feeling relief. With them both gone, neither of them will know that she had been kissing a girl just hours before they died.

After their death, Cam has to move in with her aunt and grandmother. Her aunt is conservative and her grandmother is immensely old-fashioned. She is living in Miles City, Montana, a town where she has to hide who she really is from everyone around her. This conservative ranch town is hard for Cam to adjust to, so she tries to blend in and bury her feelings.

Coley Taylor moves to town then and Cam’s life changes. Coley is a perfect cowgirl, beautiful, and driving a pickup. She also has the perfect boyfriend. Coley and Cam become super close and Cam finds herself seeing that something more may happen. Right when this seems actually possible, her ultrareligious Aunt Ruth sends her to a religious camp to be ‘cured’.


fallen-angelsFallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers was number 26 on the list of most frequently challenged books written by authors of color from 1990-1999 and is currently number 11 of the top 100 Banned/Challenged books: 200-2009 list. This book is frequently banned for reasons of racism, offensive language, and violence. Myers also won the 1988 Coretta Scott King Award for this book.

Fallen Angels tells the story of Richie Perry, a seventeen-year-old student who has just left his Harlem high school. He has decided to enlist in the Army in the summer of 1967 after his college plans fall through. As a result, Richie spends a year on active duty in Vietnam, something that changes his life forever. He has illusions about what he will face over there and doesn’t believe that he will be sent overseas because of his knee injury.

Richie finds himself face-to-face with the horrors of warfare and the Vietcong they are fighting every day. He struggles with all the violence and death around him, but those are not the only thing haunting him and his comrades. They are told they will encounter light, easy work, something that proves to be untrue when one of the first new recruits he meets is killed during his squad’s first patrol. He is deeply shaken and the increasing levels of destruction and brutality he witnesses leave him questioning the morality of war and the virtues of the people around him. Richie also finds himself questioning why the black troops are given the most dangerous assignments and why the U.S. has even involved themselves in this war.

Walter Dean Myers also has several other books that are banned because of diverse content: Monster, Hoops, and Scorpions.


will-grayson-will-graysonWill Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan has been banned/challenged multiple times for its content. Levithan also has multiple other books that have been challenged for the same reasons. This book deals with homosexuality and relationships.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson tells the story of two different Will Graysons: one gay and one straight. Will Grayson meets Will Grayson, one cold night on a very unlikely street corner in Chicago. This chance meeting changes both of their lives, and the lives of their friends, forever. Will Grayson and Will Grayson find their worlds meshed together, collided and intertwined. One straight Will Grayson and the other gay Will Grayson are both dealing with romantic relationships, complicated friendships, and friends that think they know what is best for them.

David Levithan has more books banned/challenged for diverse content: Two Boys Kissing, Boy Meets Boy, Hold Me Closer, and Full Spectrum.


Here are a list of other young adult books that are frequently banned or challenged that are either by diverse authors or have diverse content! Click on the title for more information. There are many, many other young adult books that have been banned, but we just don’t have the room in this blog post to share them all. For more information, contact us!

(Here’s a list of frequently challenged young adult books to help you get started! http://www.ala.org/bbooks/frequentlychallengedbooks/YAbooks )

perks-of-being-a-wallflowerabsolutely-true-diary
this-book-is-gaybeyond-magentathis-one-summermexican-whiteboy

Welcome to day 3! Today we’ll be looking at one author of color who has many books on the most frequently challenged/banned list. This author is Toni Morrison and her most frequently challenged books are The Bluest Eye, Beloved, and Song of Solomon.

Toni Morrison is an editor, writer, playwright, literary critic, and professor. She is a Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize winning novelist with many well-known and best-selling novels. (Three of her best known are the challenged ones mentioned above.) Her novels contain richly detailed and vivid African-American characters with large themes and expressive dialogue. Even though her books are banned, Morrison has been awarded a whole slew of honorary degrees and has amassed nearly every book prize possible.


the-bluest-eyeThe Bluest Eye was the first novel written by Morrison in 1970. It has been challenged for being sexually explicit and for containing offensive language. Morrison writes about incest, rape, prostitution, domestic violence, racism, child molestation, abuse, and other sensitive topics.

This book tells the story of Pecola Breedlove, an eleven-year-old black girl living in Ohio after the Great Depression. She is sent to live with the MacTeer family after her father tries to burn their house down. Pecola is obsessed with beautiful white movie stars in movies, particularly Shirley Temple, and believes that if she only had the bluest eyes, she would be considered beautiful.

No matter where she goes or what she does, Pecola constantly believes she is ugly. This perception is only confirmed for her when she goes home and sees the tension-filled relationship between her parents. They constantly abuse each other. Pecola’s mother loves movies and her job working in a white woman’s home. Her father feels stuck in his marriage and lashes out on Pecola and her mother because of it. Throughout the story, Pecola constantly believes if only she had blue eyes, her life would be infinitely better. This belief, and other explosive factors, eventually drives her mad.


belovedBeloved is often banned/challenged for violence and for being sexually explicit. Morrison writes about the issue of slavery and talks about the stories that people choose to forget and the stories they choose to pass on. This book is told through a series of flashbacks and memories and is not narrated chronologically.

In 1873 Ohio, Sethe, a former slave, lives with her eighteen-year-old daughter, Denver. Sethe’s mother-in-law died eight years ago. Sethe also has two sons who ran away right before Baby Suggs’ death. The house they live in is believed to be haunted and some say that this is be the spirit of Sethe’s dead daughter.

Paul D., a former slave that Sethe last saw over twenty years ago, appears on their front stoop and moves in. His arrival spurs the novel to begin its flashbacks and memory-telling. Readers are treated to the memories of Sethe growing up in the South. After she turned 13, Sethe lived with the Garners, who practiced slavery, but were not necessarily violent. After the master dies however, his brother takes over and his sadist tendencies become apparent. Sethe and Paul D. incur massive hardship under their new master, leading them both to try to escape. Sethe eventually does and Paul D. then ends up on her doorstep many years later. After he appears, Sethe’s past actions come back to haunt her and the family goes down a twisty, violent, sadistic road.


song-of-solomonSong of Solomon is frequently challenged/banned for racism, offensive language, and for being sexually explicit. These reasons are some of the same for Morrison’s other two books being banned. This book is a multi-generational exploration into racial identity, self-discovery and social classes.

Four generations of a family with the last name of Dead have a powerful history that not everyone knows the truth about. Milkman, aka Macon Dead III, is the protagonist in this story. He is self-centered and uncaring about anyone around him. At the age of 32, he decides he no longer wants to live at home with his stifling parents. Milkman has questions over his parents differing historical memories and his own family history. The characters in this story are struggling to gain independence and prosperity, not just wealth, and their black identities/ancestral ties play a key role in their successes and failures.


If you haven’t read any of Morrison’s work, we recommend you check them out. Stay tuned for more banned book week goodness tomorrow!

This year’s Banned Book Week is focusing on the diversity of authors and ideas that have prompted a disproportionate share of challenges. ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom estimates that more than half of all banned books are by authors of color or ones that represent groups of viewpoints outside the mainstream. As a result, this week we will be sharing some reviews of our favorite banned books that fit this category.

The ALA’s website has a list of Frequently Challenged Books with Diverse Content and another list of Most Frequently Challenged Books Written by Authors of Color 1990-1999. Check out these lists for suggestions of books to read that fit into this year’s theme.


This first day we will be looking at a couple graphic novels that frequently make this list: Habibi by Craig Thompson, Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, and Fun Home by Alison Bechdel. There are many other graphic novels that have been banned and frequently challenged, but we’re just focusing on these three today. (Stay tuned and you may see more later this week!)


habibiHabibi by Craig Thompson frequently finds itself on the top ten list of most frequently challenged books. In fact, this graphic novel is number 8 on the top ten list of 2015. Habibi is frequently banned for reasons of nudity, sexually explicitness, and unsuited for age group. The challenging and banning of this graphic novel deprives readers of this intense story of love and relationships, more specifically the commonalities found between Christianity and Islam, as well as an examination of the cultural divide present between first and third worlds.

Habibi tells the story of Dolola, a young girl sold into marriage to a scribe who teaches her to read and write. She is captured by slave traders, but escapes, taking with her an abandoned toddler. They take refuge in an abandoned boat in the desert for the next nine years where Dolola teaches Zam how the world works by telling him stories from the Qur’an and the Bible.  They are separated and fight for the next six years to get back to each other.


persepolisPersepolis by Marjane Satrapi did not make the top ten most frequently challenged books of 2015 list, but it still made the longer list. It was #2 on the 2014 list. Persepolis is frequently banned for the following reasons: gambling, offensive language, political viewpoint, graphic depictions, and for being politically racially, and socially offensive.

Persepolis is a cultural eye-opener, a story that shows that the grass is not always greener on the other side, no matter your life circumstances. This graphic novel centers around the Islamic revolution and tells the story of Marjane’s childhood in Tehran. Growing up in a country in the midst of political upheaval means that her public life and her private life constantly contradicted each other. Her free-thinking family gives Marjane the strength to find herself even though her youth was formed during such a tumultuous time.


fun-homeFun Home by Alison Bechdel, just like the previous two graphic novels, is a frequent flyer on the challenged list. This graphic novel is frequently challenged for violence and other graphic images. The reason Fun Home finds itself as one of our diverse banned book selections is because of the subject matter.

Fun Home is Bechdel’s childhood autobiography. She tells the story of her closeted gay father, a man who was an English teacher and the owner/operator of the local funeral home. His secrets overshadow the lives of everyone else in the family, throwing Bechdel’s emerging womanhood and her homosexuality as a side player in the drama of his life. In her early teens, he goes to court over his relationship with a young boy while his death, most likely a suicide, trumps her coming out. This book is full of death, suicide, homosexuality, family strife, tragedy, desperation, violence, and other graphic images that make Fun Home a key player on the banned/challenged book list each year.


Check back tomorrow for more banned books!

BlackScience_vol1-1Across an alien landscape, two people in space suits race for safety. At each turn, they are thwarted. The woman is killed, but the man runs on, clutching a container, cursing himself for his mistakes, his obsessions, that have brought him – and his family – here. A race against time, it seems, to reach the Pillar before it is too late.

This breathless scene opens Rick Remender’s Black Science. Grant McKay, our narrator, does make it back to the Pillar, moments before it jumps. Along with Grant are is two children, teenaged Pia and younger Nathan, his five (now four)-person team of scientists and the man who bankrolled the project. We learn that Grant and his team have done the impossible – punched through the barriers between the multiverses’ dimensions, allowing humans to travel to new dimensions not only to explore, but also to exploit, possibly finding the keys to preserving our species. The method is called black science, and the Pillar is the tool. But the tool has been sabotaged, and now it and its passengers have no control over when or to where they will jump.

Grant laments his hubris and his recklessness for taking his children and his team with him on the first manned jump throughout the story. Each new dimension is as strange as the next, dumping the team into war and circumstance that are truly alien. There appears to be no way of repairing the Pillar, and now that the multiverse has been breached, nothing is certain, especially survival.

Remander’s (Uncanny Avengers, Fear Agent) novel moves at a frenetic pace, the art is both stark and riotously vivid. It harkens back to the era of pulp science fiction with non-stop action and lurid details. With three more volumes already published, this is a great choice for anyone looking for a true science fiction adventure. Fans of “The Venture Bros.,” will enjoy this considerable darker series (and the close similarity Grant McKay bears to a certain winged super-villain).

 

miss you alreadyCertain movies tug at your heart strings and leave you pulling for every character to get their happy ending. Miss You Already, starring Drew Barrymore and Toni Collette, had me rooting for their friendship to stay strong and last through whatever they faced.

Miss You Already is a very powerful story that follows two best friends, Milly and Jess, through life’s many challenges. The two have been friends since childhood and have lived through many secrets, pregnancies, boyfriends, weddings, and sharing of clothes. Inseparable for as long as they can remember, both Milly and Jess are certain their relationship can survive anything. A trip to the doctor hits Milly with life-altering news, something that sincerely tests their friendship, as well as Milly’s relationship with her husband and Jess’s relationship with her husband. Everything is flipped upside down as Milly and Jess forge out a new path through their shared lives and find that even though life throws you curveballs, true friendship will last forever.