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Hazel thought she was in for a 50 Shades level romance when she met tech titan Byron only to find her every move post-marriage monitored by cameras, sleep helmets, and other privacy-invading machinery. The last straw is Byron’s request that she install a chip in her brain, causing Hazel to flee his compound for the (relative) safety of her father’s trailer, moving in with him and his roommate - a recently purchased sex doll named Diane. In her quest to escape Byron, Hazel’s path eventually crosses with Jasper’s, a con artist with a disturbing affinity for dolphins. Made For Love is a weird and wonderful story that will make you laugh out loud, side-eye your smartphone, and reconsider the future of the human race all in an instant. -Kinsey
This is the kind of book that happens when authors as wayyy too many “What If” questions. What if… the Blyton Summer Detective Club encountered a monster that wasn’t a man in a mask? What if… the experience scarred them in life-changing ways? What if… they decided to go back and uncover the mystery AND what they discover is so much weirder than anyone could have ever imagined involving “tentacled demon spawn”, necromancy, blood magic, and the impending apocalypse? With multiple Scooby Doo and other Gen-x pop culture references, the audience for this book is a select group, but those not turned away by the premise (and pulpy horror/mystery novels) will enjoy this book as much as Scooby loves Scooby Snacks.
Initially I wasn’t drawn to this book. Why would I want to read about Mormon survivalists in Idaho? However, after a few pages I was hooked. Tara Westover is a remarkable woman who survived a childhood with little schooling, no medical treatment except what her mother could provide, a vicious brother who beat her, and difficult and dangerous working conditions in her father’s scrap metal business (OSHA would have shut the place down). She persisted and by studying on her own, she passes the ACT test and is admitted to Brigham Young University. Her education gaps are so huge that she does not know what the Holocaust is or who Martin Luther King Jr. is. Today she has a PhD in History from Cambridge University. Her journey is extraordinary and this book is well worth the read.
The Cardboard Kingdom, a graphic novel by Chad Sell, is a love letter to make-believers. The kids in his fictional neighborhood spend the summer creating elaborate costumes, weapons, and secret hideouts from cardboard boxes that they beg, borrow, and steal. The heartwarming cast of characters, including an evil sorceress, an alchemist, a banshee, and a gargoyle, demonstrate time and time again that they will only be limited by their own imaginations. Many of the kids face resistance from their parents, such as the professor whose father doesn’t understand why she wants to dress up in a mustache or the banshee who’s grandmother constantly tells her that “nice girls don’t talk so loud”, but each finds strength in their alter-ego and many of the small-minded adults eventually come around or are shown to be in the wrong. The Cardboard Kingdom is a wonderfully crafted world that has something for everyone (including your inner child) and one that you’ll want to come back to over and over again. -Kinsey
Ever wonder what it's really like to be one of the nineteen Duggar children on the reality TV show 19 Kids and Counting? When Essie, the youngest daughter of a famous evangelical family, discovers that she's pregnant, she decides to put a plan in action that will dramatically alter the course of her life and the lives of everyone around her. Weir has crafted an engaging page-turner which explores the way faith, family, and social expectation can affect people in all walks of life, but especially young people. Her narrative weaves together the stories of Essie, a closeted boy who goes to school with her, and a reporter who as a child was a member of an extremist religious group. By the time you reach the heartwarming end of this book, you'll discover that each of these characters has found a way to live a life that is more true to themselves while still acknowledging the lessons of their pasts.
You’ll want to slow waaaay down with this one. This book is all about atmosphere. O’Callaghan, a native to Cork, Ireland -- right around where this novel takes place -- creates a character out of the landscape itself, mysterious, foreboding, beautiful, and tragic. This slow-burn ghost story may not contain the frenzy many readers are accustomed to in modern horror novels, but the steady pacing will guide you right to the end. This spirit of this book lingers, so don’t be surprised if you catch yourself glancing over your shoulder while walking at night in your own house. Despite its length, if you think of this as a short story (O’Callaghan’s modus operandi) you may just enjoy THE DEAD HOUSE even more. - Garrett
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The debut story collection totally blew me away, particularly the eponymous first story, which is a true powerhouse. Subtitled "Four Fancy Sketches, Two Chalk Outlines, and No Apology," it plays with the fourth wall, turns readerly expectations upside-down, and then utterly guts you. Spires Thompson's narrative voice is so distinct, so assured, that it defies belief that it's her first book. Edgy but always accessible, she's a new literary talent to be reckoned with, perfect for fans of Junot Diaz or Roxane Gay. -Emily
Segregation in America is not de facto; it is de jure. It was sponsored by the government over many decades. Government agencies at all levels, including the Federal Housing Administration, the Veterans Administration, Tennessee Valley Authority, the Public Works Administration, local planning and housing authorities through various laws and actions created housing segregation and imposed segregation on integrated communities. Rothstein’s extensive research describes the elaborate machinations that both political parties initiated and supported and how many of these policies that are now off the books were never remedied and their effects endure. An important book to read and discuss. -Joan
I'll be honest-- its' going to take a long time for you to get through this. Unless you're a speed reader or a robot, you'll spend a not-insignificant amount of your life holding this brick of a book. So is it worth it? In a word, yes. I can't overstate the sheer power that comes with being with characters-- hearing their thoughts, seeing their joys and sorrows, worrying about the outcomes of their decisions-- for over 1,000 pages. Hugo creates a world that is filled with people whose motivations, beliefs, and goals sometimes support each other, sometimes drastically conflict, and are always beautifully rendered through his prose. Although set in a particular historical moment, the novel's real focus is on human experiences. This is a brick that is guaranteed to move you.
Bille is feeling down, because her brother Leo, is leaving to fight in the war. It’s the time of World War 2, and Billie is scared for her brother, but when he brings back Denny, a Najavo Code Talker, whom he met at boot camp, Billie is excited. Denny brought home a stray dog he names Bear. She and Bear become best friends, but when Leo leaves, she’s still worried. Will both Denny and Leo come back okay? Nora, age 10
In Ghost Boys Jewell Parker Rhodes weaves the story of 12-year-old Jerome, a young black boy who is murdered by a white police officer while playing with a toy gun, invoking Tamir Rice and so many other young black boys who are shot down, choked, or beaten because they are perceived as a threat. The story is told from the point of view of Jerome’s ghost as he recalls the events leading up to his death and befriends Sarah, the daughter of his murderer and the only living person who can see him. Confronting racism and police violence is not easy and Ghost Boys doesn’t seek to make it so. Instead, it open space for conversations about power, privilege, and pain that are much needed. ~Kinsey
While the Pulse Nightclub shooting in 2016 marks a tragic milestone in our nation's history, there's one such stone that has been lost, partially buried in the rubble of time. Robert Fieseler deftly excavates the devastating history of the Up Stairs Lounge fire in TINDERBOX. Within the pages, Fieseler guides us through the streets of New Orleans and into the red-carpeted room of a gay night club, perching us on the laps of patrons who share their stories of loss and, just as profound, their stories of love. We cringe at the ineptitude of law enforcement and civil servants, their turned backs scarcely singed by the Lounge's flames. TINDERBOX is so much more than an account of what happened June 24th 1973, it also acts as yet another cautionary tale -- Fieseler, a solemn Lorax in his storytelling: beseeching, poignant, and inspiring.
After all: "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not." -Garrett