Tear Me Apart is a well-plotted character-driven family drama filled with secrets and lies. It also deals compassionately with mental health issues, DNA, depression, adoption, cancer, suicide and cutting.
Mindy, a 17-year-old downhill skier, is on the fast track to the Olympics when a sudden snow flurry makes her clip a flag and break her leg horrendously. While in surgery to fix her leg, it is discovered that she has the most virulent form of leukemia. DNA is taken from her mother, father and aunt. Mindy is not a blood relation to any of them. The story of Mindy’s birth is slowly revealed, along with exposing many family secrets and lies.
I liked this twisty family drama even though I guessed the ending early. Tear Me Apart is recommended to both thriller and psychological suspense fans. 4 stars!
Thanks to the publisher, Mira, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.
Posted in Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: adoption, Aug 28 2018, depression, family drama
Sheets is a heartwarming graphic novel about the unusual friendship between a grieving girl and a lonely ghost boy.
Marjorie’s mother is dead and her father is so depressed that he barely leaves his bedroom to eat. The family’s laundry is run before and after school by Marjorie. The mysterious Nigel is trying to convince Marjorie to give up the laundry’s lease so he can open a yoga studio and spa.
In the meantime, Wendell lives in Ghost Town. At 11, he is having trouble making friends. He decides to ride a train out of town and ends up in Marjorie’s town. When they meet, their adventures begin.
Sheets is perfect for young and middle school readers. The words are scarce and the pretty pastel pictures tell much of the story. The moral is nice and doesn’t seem forced. 3 stars.
Thanks to the publisher, Lion Forge, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.
Posted in Children, Graphic Novel, Teen & Young Adult Tagged with: Aug 28 2018, grief, pre-teens
It is amazing such an accomplished thriller with multiple plot lines was written by a debut author. Kudos to Edwin Hill for the marvelous PI/thriller/family drama, Little Comfort!
Hester lives in a separate apartment in the same building as her boyfriend Morgan. Morgan’s twin sister, Daphne, and her three-year-old Kate live in the third apartment. Daphne leaves Kate alone in Morgan’s apartment with a note stating she would return in an hour. Three months later, Daphne is still missing. Hester has taken on primary caregiving activities for Kate forcing her to take a leave of absence from her job as a librarian at Harvard. When she gets a new client in her private missing person service, she begins investigating her client’s missing brother, Sam.
Sam disappeared 12 years ago when only 15 with his best friend, foster child Gabe. The only clue are bi-monthly homemade postcards of locations around the US. All include cryptic movie quotes.
What begins as a simple missing person case quickly escalates into a deadly cat and mouse hunt. Little Comfort ratchets up the reader’s dread with parallel storylines from five points of view.
This book approaches a familiar plot from a different perspective. As the characters’ motivations are reluctantly drawn out even originally unsympathetic characters make the reader empathize with the choices they made. Little Comfort is highly recommended as an emotion-riddled original reworking of the thriller genre. 5 stars!
Thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for an advance copy.
Posted in Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: Aug 28 2018, family drama
Batman and the Signal was a little too focused on the Signal’s feelings and history to feel like a fully fleshed out plot.
Duke Thomas, formerly a Robin, is now the Signal, a daytime crimefighter in Gotham. In addition, Duke is one of the increasingly common metahumans, those whose superpowers are in their genes set off by a triggering event.
The brighter colors and clearer pictures are a nice change that emphasizes that Batman and the Signal is set in the daylight. Duke as the Signal has self doubts and confusion about his power and role as a Gotham protector. However, the underlying mystery of what or who is activating the metahumans is the star here.
By the end, I was exhausted by the sheer volume of teenage angst. It felt like I was reading a young adult book. While the art was beautiful, the story just didn’t pop for me. 3 stars.
Thanks to DC Comics and NetGalley for an advanced copy.
Posted in Graphic Novel Tagged with: Aug 28 2018, batman
Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles is a clever reinvention of an iconic 1960s cartoon character.
Snagglepuss was originally a pink swishy wannabe actor and actual mountain lion in the Yogi the Bear cartoons beginning in 1959. This comic, set in 1953, casts Snagglepuss as a successful playwright caught up in the McCarthy Congressional hearings looking for communist sympathizers within the show business community.
I wasn’t expecting such a serious comic based on such a silly character from my childhood. However, Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles won me over. Even though this is set during the 1950s, it brings with it the more accepting mindset of 2018. Snagglepuss is married to Lila Lion, who both has a beard and is a beard for Snagglepuss’ gay lifestyle with boyfriend Pablo. Pablo escaped from Baptiste’s Cuba after his friend is murdered by government thugs for being openly homosexual. Many famous icons from the 1950s appear: Dorothy Parker, Marilyn Monroe, Lillian Hellman, Joe Dimaggio, Clint Eastwood and Arthur Miller. Huckleberry Hound is also out of the closet and a novelist. Even the iconic Stonewall club is featured.
Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles is not a comic for everyone. It is a deep dive into mid-century politics from a modern viewpoint. I would recommend it to readers of historical fiction and fans of thoughtful movies like Hidden Figures and the Imitation Game. Since I embrace both of those categories, 5 stars!
Thanks to the publisher, DC Comics, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.
Posted in Graphic Novel, Historical Fiction Tagged with: 1950s, Aug 28 2018
If you love tacos (and who doesn’t), the Taco Tuesday Cookbook is for you!
Filled with 52 taco plus guacamole, salsas, seasonings, beverages and tortilla recipes, this cookbook has something for every taste. Starting with eight easy breakfast tacos, the author includes tacos made with chicken, pork, beef, fish and shrimp. There are also eight vegetarian choices like Blackened Zucchini Tacos and Curried Cauliflower Tacos with Pineapple Salsa. If the thought of eating Mexican tacos every Tuesday for a year doesn’t appeal, don’t worry. There are Jamaican Jerk Chicken Tacos, Asian Thai Rib Tacos and Philly Cheesesteak Tacos. Skillet Beef Tacos and Food Truck Tacos are available for the traditionalist too. Overall, there is plenty of variety here. Most of the recipes take 20-30 minutes to cook though there are recipes using a slow cooker too.
I picked up the Taco Tuesday Cookbook because I’m gluten-free and corn tortillas are much tastier than most of the gluten-free breads. Even though some of the recipes call for flour tortillas, the author has included a gluten-free “flour” tortilla recipe or store-bought corn tortillas could easily be substituted. All the recipes include pictures that look delicious! The only flaw is no nutritional information is included. Still, this book is recommended for home cooks looking for fast and easy weeknight meals. 4 stars!
Thanks to Fair Winds Press and NetGalley for an advanced copy.
Posted in Non-fiction Tagged with: Aug 28 2018, Cookbook, tacos
Bill Murray’s movie career is explored along with various artists’ interpretations of him in numerous media in the Art of Being Bill.
Bill’s life (in movies at least) is broken up chronologically into eight chapters:
- The Jester
- The Thinker
- The Intense
- The Charming
- The Exasperated
- The Melancholy
- The Complex
- The Legend.
Each of Bill’s movies are described in a one-page movie synopsis accompanied by the movie poster and a short behind-the-scenes’ blurb. Then two to four artists offer their interpretation of Bill at that point in his life and career. Using seeds, pastels, pencils, paints and software, each picture is engaging. At the beginning, Bill was portrayed as a clown, a suave player and even a punk rocker. By the end, the representations became increasing melancholy and regretful—just as Bill appeared in his later works.
The art varies widely in media, style and quality but each are valid interpretations of their subject. The text does a excellent job exploring the experiences of an aging comic actor’s early attempts to be taken seriously (i.e., The Razor’s Edge) to actually being taken seriously later in his career (i.e., Lost in Translation). It is easy to see the same trajectory in other comedians’ lives that did not end as well (i.e., Jerry Lewis and Robin Williams). Overall, the Art of Being Bill is more than just the sum of its wide-ranging artwork and provides a thoughtful reflection on life itself. 4 stars!
Thanks to the publisher, Race Point Publishing, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.
Posted in Non-fiction Tagged with: art, Aug 28 2018, biography