April 2020 Picks
At five, Fitz is thrown into a world he never expected to know. He finds out that his father is the King-in-Waiting. Because Fitz was conceived out of wedlock, he has no claims to the throne or the royal family. However, his father, Prince Chivalry, wants to give him a better life than the life of a beggar. He commands that his right hand and battle partner, Burrich, to teach him and raise him as a stable hand. Quickly, Fitz’s role evolves as he’s noticed by his grandfather, King Shrewd.
Layoverland by Gabby Noone is a surprisingly hilarious but thought-provoking novel about Beatrice Fox, a judgmental 17-year-old girl who gets a “job” in the Afterlife as a counselor in Purgatory, or “Layoverland.” This place looks like an airport, with a hotel and food court, and everything is mediocre there, from jello surrounding all food to luke-warm showers. She makes unexpected friends, from her Valley Girl mentor who died 30 years ago to the boy who was driving the car that caused her fatal accident. Bea realizes things about herself and grows as a person, even though she’s physically frozen in time, runny mascara and all. I’d recommend this book for high-schoolers, and adults who like atypical fantasy Young Adult fiction.
Streaming on Kanopy. Some of my favorites are The Bookshop, Eighth Grade, Trumbo, Amy, the tragic story of Amy Winehouse, and The Florida Project. These are all movies available to order once the library is open again, however, with Kanopy, you don’t have to wait for it to come. It’s right there, right now, ready to stream. I’m loving it!
March 2020 Picks
Creepy thriller from the Italian countryside starring a band of impoverished children and their ne’er-do-well parents. Set in low hills in a wheat farming region of Italy, the low dry hills and streambeds are a perfect setting for nasty behavior by children and adults. Luckily, the main boy and his sister redeem themselves from the brutality of families and friends by showing courage and kindness at the right time.
Everybody’s favorite serial killer is back. He’s on a history tour, but has time for 3 (or more) “science projects”. Coleman, Serge’s sidekick is still stoned and this time the vehicle is a Plymouth Belvedere with a huge engine. Unusually, Serge involves a couple of civilians on his history tour and one of the themes is football (boo) but there are plenty of other interests. Read it quick, before they are apprehended.
That’s What Friends Do and The Mystwick School of Musicraft are two 2020 books that on the surface seem very different but have some commonalties. They are both aimed at preteens but I would recommend That’s What for perhaps 10 and up, while Mystwick could be a read-aloud for as young as seven. Both books have 12-year-old female protagonists, although in That’s What Sammie’s narration alternates with that of her best friend David, who has a secret crush on her. Things get complicated for Sammie and David when new kid Luke moves to town and flirts with an uninterested Sammie, crossing over into harassment, which David misinterprets. Despite the heavy issues of consent and harmful rumors, Barnhart’s book remains a believable and at times funny story of modern middle-schoolers negotiating confusing new territory, with no simplistic “good kids” and “bad kids,” heroes or villains, here.
Mystwick offers a simpler yet surprising world, much like our own, with the Internet and television, but also with music that is magic. This novel (I suspect the first in what will become a series) is obviously a Harry-Potter-read-alike, but with some significant differences. In Khoury’s world, anyone is capable of doing at least basic magic, as a Novice, with a little practice, so there are no “Muggles” that the magic has to be hidden from. The most musically talented can audition for Mystwick when they’re twelve years old, but competition is fierce, so it’s not like at Hogwarts, where you’re born magical and guaranteed a spot. Main character Amelia is the daughter of a Maestro (very talented musician-magician) but that is no guarantee she can get into the school, especially when her audition goes spectacularly bad. Yet somehow, she ends up at the school, where her best friend is a boy with family issues like and unlike her own. (Parent-child relationships are an important part of both novels.)
The books can, of course, be read separately, but I recommend both for their humor and relatability.
The first book in this series introduces Celaena Sardothien. Her fierceness as an assassin is known throughout the land. After betrayal, tragedy and her capture, Adarland’s King enslaves her. It is only after Prince Dorian offers her a deal for her freedom that she rekindles the fire in her heart and the hope for her country. I liked this series because it had many unexpected twists and turns, and the characters are fiercely loyal to one another.
Using the rings of a tree as the structure, Christie weaves an intriguing tale of love and fortune through the years, making Greenwood a unique page turner.
Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson (Book on CD)
I didn’t read this, I listened to it. And I found myself sitting in the car for hours just to get one more piece of it. It’s a heartbreaking story about a family told from five perspectives, and as the book on CD, each character is more beautiful than the last.
This book took me twenty years to read, but it’s worth it. A beautiful story about the Catholic/Protestant war for Ireland and a good read for St. Patrick’s Day.
This film, though quite funny, terrified me. I did not know people could be so horrendous. Definitely worth the watch, or read, in my case. Worthy of its Oscar!
Ford vs. Ferrari (DVD)
I thought this movie was about Matt Damon driving a Ford and Christian Bale driving a Ferrari. I was wrong. It was hilarious and touching, and fun all the way through.
Lively, up tempo rock with a big band horn section. Tunes like Jump Jive and Wail describe this CD which definitely livened up Friday’s radio show at 2 pm on KNYO107.7 & KNYO.ORG.
Blowout is a journey around the globe revealing the greed of Big Oil and Gas and how and why the Russian government hacked the 2016 U.S. Election. Blowout is a call to fight for transparency and to stop subsidizing the wealthiest business on earth and to check the influence of the world’s most destructive industry and its enab