Wild Things: The Joy of Reading Children’s Literature as an Adult, by Bruce Handy (2017)

Nonfiction
Adult
Wild Things: The Joy of Reading Children's Literature as an Adult, by Bruce HandyI am SO glad to discover and share this book! As a regular reader of children’s literature, I’m often fielding questions about why I read it. Assumptions about “easy lit” abound, along with dismissals of great stories because “that’s just for kids.” But those of you who share my passion for reading know how powerful a story can be, regardless of the audience. And as Handy himself writes, it can be harder for authors because kids have no patience for poor (didactic) writing, no matter how well-intentioned! Anyway, Handy is a contributing editor for Vanity Fair, and this is his first book. Essentially, he is revisiting some kidlit classics reading them again as an adult, giving him an entirely new reading experience. Read More »

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Kitchen Ideas You Can Use, 2nd ed., by Chris Peterson (2018)

Nonfiction
Adult
Kitchen Ideas You Can Use, by Chris PetersonOnly four years after the first edition, author Chris Peterson has released an updated edition to his stylish kitchen design guide, reflecting the quick pace of change in both technology and trends. From bold lighting options and copper fixtures to eco-friendly countertops made of recycled glass, paper, and other materials, this new edition offers a photo-packed and comprehensive overview of what to consider in your kitchen design. It’s just under 200 pages, and most facing page spreads feature four to six photos along with helpful explanations and tips to guide you in making the best choice for your home design, family life, style preference, and budget. Read More »

Forward, by Lisa Maas (2018)

Fiction
Adult
Forward, by Lisa MaasThis raw and touching story of grief, loss and apprehension finds the perfect home in the graphic novel format. Rayanne and Ali, forty-something lesbians living in Victoria, are both alone and determined to keep it that way. Rayanne is still hurting from a bad relationship that ended, not of her choice, several years ago. She has crushes and fantasies, sure, but she ignores them, creating a brittle shell around her heart, despite the well-meaning but exhausting efforts of those around her to find her a mate. (What IS it about happy couples?) Ali is still deeply grieving the loss of her wife Liv to cancer, not quite a year ago, and is confused and slightly ashamed to find herself attracted to a young dog-walker. Read More »

Next Year, for Sure, by Zoey Leigh Peterson (2017)

Contemporary Fiction
Adult
Next Year, for Sure, by Zoey Leigh PetersonAfter nine years in a monogamous relationship that has others calling them the perfect couple, Chris and Kathryn challenge societal norms when Chris decides to act upon an attraction to Emily, with Kathryn’s encouragement. This is the story of that exploration into polyamory, and it’s not a linear path. Family and friends are horrified and upset, acquaintances judge them, feelings are soon hurt, rules are established and broken. This debut novel by Peterson raises a myriad of questions for the reader to ponder as we witness the changing relationship between Chris and Kathryn. What is love, what is a crush, and what does it mean to love? Is it possible to love two people, to be in love with both of them, at the same time? Read More »

Women in Sunlight, by Frances Mayes (2018)

Fiction
Adult
Women in Sunlight, by Frances MayesFrances Mayes is the author of Under the Tuscan Sun, a nonfiction memoir of her move to an Italian villa brought to the big screen featuring Diane Lane and the inimitable Canadian Sandra Oh. It was a huge seller, capitalizing on the North American longing for days of wine, good food and roses, sunlight and Italian lovers. I bet the pull of Italia, la dolce vita, is stronger today than ever. This is a fictional take on the story, featuring three American women, from “the South,” who decide to leap before looking (check out the cover again) and surprise everyone they know by renting an Italian villa, sight unseen, for a year. The three met at an open house for a retirement village, a move none of them wants to make despite its being the most rational step at their age. Read More »

People Like Us, by Dana Mele (2018)

Mystery
14-18
People Like Us, by Dana MeleSo I guess boarding school murders are a thing! This is my second review for today, as I couldn’t help bundling these together given their plot similarities. This one is set in the U.S., on the east coast. Bates Academy is a boarding school for privileged girls from elite families, with a scholarship program that gives Kay Donovan a spot, despite her humble background. As this is her big break, Kay befriends the right group and despite a habit of stocking her closet with borrowed clothes she “forgets” to return, her sharp wit and withering comments quickly earn her a coveted spot in the leadership clique. Now in fourth year, the girls put on the Skeleton costume dance for Halloween, and the book opens as the dance ends and the girls meet at the lake for the annual skinny dip. To their shock, they discover a body in the water, a student named Jessica Lane. Read More »

S.T.A.G.S., by M.A. Bennett (2017, 2018)

Mystery
13-16
S.T.A.G.S by M.A. BennettWhat is it about boarding schools that both fascinates and horrifies? I suppose the nostalgia of stories from Enid Blyton to J.K. Rowling’s Hogwarts lets us imagine them as a place of besties and grand adventure; the reality of spending every waking moment with the bullies and beasts that populated my high schol is probably more realistic! This novel definitely skews toward the nasty. The subtitle on the North American edition of this British mystery says it all: “Nine students. Three blood sports. One deadly weekend.” From the start, we learn someone dies, and that someone is Henry de Warlencourt, leader of the school’s prefects known as the Medievals. And our protagonist calls herself a murderer, or at least one of them. Read More »