Monday, February 29, 2016

Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

Jenny Lawson's childhood was full of questionable roadkill and home taxidermy - which fully explains how she became that kind of crazy we do so love to make "internet famous."

I've followed Lawson (The Bloggess) online for years, and I adore her. You may know her too, because her story of Beyonce the chicken is a widely distributed fable on the irrationality of arguments between spouses.

When this book was published in 2012, I immediately ordered an autographed copy and added it to my teetering, never-ending to-be-read stack. And I never got to it.

Why read it now, then? We've been looking at shaking up the book discussions at the library, and when I saw I could get my hands on a stack of this book, I jumped at the chance. Now THIS will shake things up!

Lawson's nuts, but in a hilarious, harmless way. You don't want her as a neighbor, and you truly feel for Victor, her ever-beleaguered husband. But you definitely want her in your social circle so you can hear the next chapter in the "Guess what just happened" saga.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Dark Knight: A True Batman Story by Paul Dini and Eduardo Risso

When a comics-industry professional writes his memoirs, there's probably a law that it has to be in graphic novel form. But unlike the common awkward kid's story of how comics saved me, Paul Dini's is an adult tale of how comics pulled him from the brink. 

Dini was already an acclaimed writer when he was brutally attacked and nearly killed in a mugging. His injuries weren't just physical - in addition to his skull broken in multiple places, he was deeply traumatized by the attack and spiraled into a frightening depression.

But Batman understands because he's got a dark side, too, and he doesn't let it rule him. He's still on the side of good, and Batman helps Dini see that he can beat back the nightmares by doing what he's always done: writing good stories for great characters.

This is a fantastic way to tell this specific story - since most of the action takes place inside Dini's head, his thoughts and hallucinations are vividly depicted as appropriately twisted comic book characters. It's dark, but also hopeful and very well done.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget by Sarah Hepola

Everybody drinks, but Sarah DRANK; she drank until blackout, and she did it a lot. So when she decides enough is enough, can she give it up? And who will she be without the bravery alcohol offers?

Hepola is the personal essays editor for and that experience shows in this book. It's serious and well written, honest and upfront without being maudlin or defensive or sickly sweet. It's also very funny in places.

I really enjoyed the book, and I learned a lot about the alcoholic blackout - Hepola gives some very interesting medical, scientific information about the brain and it's capacities. It's frightening to recognize what happens during a blackout, and how we probably don't even recognize it in others.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer

by Kelly Jones

A young girl explores her new community while coming to terms with looking different than the majority of the population.  She's lucky to have a few unexpected chickens helping her bond with the local farm and 4-H interests. Unfortunately, the people in town are more than a little tight-lipped about those birds.  Some seem to want to get their hands on them, while others know exactly what makes them special, and are just holding out to see how "exceptional" the new farmer is.

This is a well-done story for upper-elementary readers.  Excitingly, it is presented in epistolary form. One of the truly fun parts is seeing a modern kid interact with greatly archaic technology.

Monday, February 1, 2016

The Shepherd's Crown by Terry Pratchett

In this, the final bit of Terry Pratchett's writing (RIP good sir), we make a final visit to the Chalk for a visit with young witch Tiffany Aching - a fifth book in the young adult series set on Pratchett's Discworld.

There's a shift of power in the world as Granny Weatherwax passes from it, but she's made all the arrangements and has left detailed instructions on what she wants - including specifying Tiffany as the beneficiary of her steading, home and gardens.

Running two steadings quickly wears Tiffany thin, and the fairy world has noticed the barriers aren't guarded so well these days. Of course, they have to try and push their luck.

Luckily, Tiffany's just the kind of witch the world needs now - one who's not afraid to try something new, but she's also dedicated to doing what's right even if it's not fun. Along with a motley band of witches and my adored Nac Mac Feegles, Tiffany's determined to put the fairies back where they belong.

In the afterword, it is explained that this book was written and finished by Terry, but didn't get his customary, continuing tweaks and changes right up to publication. Honestly, I don't know that I missed them. It's a wonderful book, a delighting story, funny and sweet, and hits all the right notes.