Friday, December 6, 2013

Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton

Humans of New YorkHumans of New York by Brandon Stanton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've been following the Humans of New York fb page for a couple years now, after seeing its photos shared by authors. At first most of the pictures didn't include quotes but as someone who dreams of one day living in The City, I couldn't get enough. When the photographer began adding quotes, the people and their stories became even more fascinating and real to me.

Now the photographer Brandon Stanton and St Martin's Press have published those magic moments in a gorgeous book. Even the dust jacket is a pretty part of its design. In fact, it makes such a perfect holiday gift that it's selling out on Amazon and! People still love to gift books, how awesome is that :D

Unfortunately the pages aren't numbered so I can't specify where my favorite photos/stories are, but there are three in particular that I loved. 
The first is of a bulldog named Boogie. He's lying at the feet of his owner and giving a sideways look lol! The second is of the homeless man who was sweetly concerned about Brandon "making it" as a photographer. The empathy that simple thought conveys despite (and possibly even because of) his own situation just melted me. 

Last but not least, I loved the humor of the woman laughing and joyously eating an apple. She had a funny quote about not minding "white people moving into our neighborhood" because they come in peace, bringing Whole Foods and Fleetwood Mac with them LOL!

This and the Hyperbole and a Half book are both on my wish list this Christmas. How funny that they're both books that originated from social media. IMO that just proves they go together as the perfect gift for book lovers this year!

This book was a personal purchase.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

Pushing the Limits (Pushing the Limits, #1)Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Echo Emerson is a girl suffering amnesia about a terrible night. She knows something bad happened but can't seem to recall what, no matter how hard she tries. Noah Hutchins is the loner-type bad boy that seems unreachable, but also really hot. Thrown together in shared classes and then again in the counselor's offices, Noah and Echo are drawn to each other.
I freakin' loved this book. As per usual, I found out about this series from the teens at my library. We couldn't keep it on the shelves, and I kept having to add each new teen requesting it to our ever growing hold list over the summer. So of course I did what any good librarian does and added myself to that list too! lol
Now, it took me a bit to get it but once I did I couldn't put it down and read it over the course of two nights. I like YA that includes kids from different backgrounds and living situations, and this series follows a group of teens that have been through the foster system. It's also a romance so there's plenty of love and learning to trust another person, but it also has a counselor/therapist as a major character helping the main characters navigate the intense issues and traumas they are dealing with. I liked that. Too often the adult supposed to help is a negative force without any counter-balance, but in this book the therapist is at first untrusted and then proves themselves to be a person/adult that cares and can actually help.
Bottom line, this series is addictively (yes I made up that word) good and worth the wait:)

This book was a library copy.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Otter, the Spotted Frog & the Great Flood: A Creek Indian Story retold by Gerald Hausman

The Otter, the Spotted Frog & the Great Flood: A Creek Indian StoryThe Otter, the Spotted Frog & the Great Flood: A Creek Indian Story by Gerald Hausman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

November is "Native American Heritage Month" so I decided to read this beautifully illustrated picture book of a Creek Indian story. There are tons of different creation stories. They vary nation by nation, tribe to tribe, and this is one of them.
Being Native myself, I've always loved the story-telling and oral histories of indigenous peoples. I hadn't heard this particular telling before but loved the way it has "animal people" and wonderful illustrations of them to capture the spirit of the tale. I also found it amusing that (in this telling) the First Peoples came from river otters! lol It is common for animals to feature prominently in Native stories and books like this one are important for preserving them.

This book was a review copy from the Wisdom Tales Press via NetGalley.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Confessions of a Latter-Day Virgin by Nicole Hardy

I have never before read a contemporary book that captured loneliness so well. Not the typical "I wanna get married" kind of thing but the true loneliness of not fitting in at all, of not having a community that truly accepts you for who you are, of not having that soft place to fall. And even though Nicole Hardy's struggles deal with her church (Mormon) and being a single woman in that church, and also being a virgin as a result, I found myself relating.

I know what it's like to freak out when your life puts you in situations that make you question your whole paradigm, and you have to figure out how to survive what feels like the tectonic plates under your feet actually ARE shifting. And that's what I liked best about this book. That it dealt with the stresses of a changing worldview and the feelings of loss when you have to let go of old ways that were taught to you from infancy, and the fear of not knowing what will be left standing when you do.

And I loved how much she confesses her most intimate thoughts and how that ties in with her learning to be a writer. Because what good is reading a memoir if the author doesn't really deliver the marrow of their life? It's the only true way to connect, and Hardy does it beautifully.

This book was a library copy.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Spirit by Brigid Kemmerer (Elementals #3)

Spirit (Elemental, #3)Spirit by Brigid Kemmerer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Spirit is releasing later this month and I just can't say enough good things about this series. I love how the dialogue and the guys' thought processes are SO your average teenage guy! They say the craziest shit to each other and fight like all the siblings Ive known. It's hilarious and so realistic feeling that the guys seem completely real to me. And that's the best feeling from a book, because it makes the series an addiction to know what happens next.

Overall the series is about brothers with elemental powers that make them a force feared by many. But Spirit is Hunter's story, and Hunter is a spirit user and not one of the Merrick brothers. Instead he's a "fifth" with a tenuous relationship with the Merricks because he suspects his dad and uncle probably died because of them. However, Hunter's life is kind of in a tailspin and he's left having to decide whether he can possibly trust the brothers. After all, it wasn't too long ago that he and Gabriel Merrick were teaming up to fight some deadly fires.

Then there's the new girl Kate. She's like a splash of cool water and connects with Hunter like no one else has done in a very long time. But she's got some secrets of her own and Hunter's left trying to figure out who he can really lean on when he needs a friend. I love this series and recommend it for anyone looking for a fun YA read.

This book was a review copy via Netgalley.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Because It Is My Blood (Birthright #2)

Because It Is My Blood (Birthright, #2)Because It Is My Blood by Gabrielle Zevin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really liked this one. It's shaping up to be a reeeeeeally great series and I'm hoping it continues just as strongly with the next book(s?). The Birthright series is set in a future New York where substances like chocolate and coffee are banned and, like in the prohibition era of the 1920s, these things have given rise to illegal black markets, mob families, and a NYC very different than our present.

Anya Balanchine is a daughter of an infamous chocolate family and in this book we pick up with her after her stint at a notorious juvenile detention center, Liberty Children's Facility. She emerges with a determination to keep her siblings safe and get her life together but it's even harder now that she has a record and a family "business" in chaos. But Anya is a survivor and a girl with true grit. She works her butt off trying to keep everything from falling apart but things go awry, people die, and Anya becomes a fugitive in Mexico! Hence, the recipe for some spicy Mexican chocolate in the book's preface.

I also liked the parallels between Anya's world and our current events (e.g. the NYC bans on big cups of soda, junk food restrictions).
It was a nice little extra layer of things to think about as I read.This would make for a great read and discussion with high school classes. I'd love to hear what they think about what exactly makes something legal or illegal, and how our history with prohibition compares and contrasts with bans on the sale of gluttonous sodas. Yay nerd fun! lol

This book was a library copy.