Book Review: An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green

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Reviewed by: Savannah
Genre: Fiction
Format: Hardcover

Page count: 336 Pages
Rating: 4/5 stars
In stock: Not Yet

As a long-time fan of the Green brothers I was very excited when I heard that Hank Green was releasing a book. As soon as I got it I dove right in. I immediately was drawn in by the main character and just wanted to know what happened. While, I personally found that it was obvious it was written by a first time writer I was still really interested. The plot wasn’t like anything  have previously encountered. I’ll give you the synopsis from Goodreads

“The Carls just appeared. Coming home from work at three a.m., twenty-three-year-old April May stumbles across a giant sculpture. Delighted by its appearance and craftsmanship–like a ten-foot-tall Transformer wearing a suit of samurai armor–April and her friend Andy make a video with it, which Andy uploads to YouTube. The next day April wakes up to a viral video and a new life. News quickly spreads that there are Carls in dozens of cities around the world–everywhere from Beijing to Buenos Aires–and April, as their first documentarian, finds herself at the center of an intense international media spotlight.

Now April has to deal with the pressure on her relationships, her identity, and her safety that this new position brings, all while being on the front lines of the quest to find out not just what the Carls are, but what they want from us.”

This book is a very fun and fast read, so if you’re looking for something along those lines this could be the one for you. Of all the books I have read this year this isn’t one I’d tell everyone they must read, but if they seem into the concept of the book I would then recommend it. It is definitely a suggestion if you just want something fun and fast to read with some social commentary on celebrity culture without getting too deep and in-depth that you get overwhelmed. Overall, it was an enjoyable book, and I will now wait for the sequel to be written and then published.

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Book Review: Robin by David Itzkoff

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Robin

Reviewed by: Alex

Genre: Biography

Format: Hardcover

Page count: 440

Rating: 8.5/10

In Stock?: Yes!

 

Robin is the biography of the one and only Robin Williams, written by David Itzkoff.

Admittedly I avoided this book for a very long time, having been a Robin Williams fan since I was young.  When he died I was sad, like most of his fans, and I didn’t want to read a book that somebody else had written about him for fear it would damage the image of him I held in my mind.  About two months ago I picked it up and started to read it, intending to only read a little as I didn’t have time to delve into a four-hundred-page book.  From the first page I was greeted by the familiarity that one would get from watching Williams perform and I read the entirety within two weeks.

“it was the late summer of 1977 and no one in the Great American Music Hall feels like laughing anymore” This opening line is probably one of my favorites, as it sets the tone for the rest of the book, detailing how Williams did things that nobody else could do and how he overcame so much in order to appear as the personality loved by so many, and that no matter who you are, you cannot find it in you to hate him.

The biography tackles Robin’s childhood, including the wild shenanigans he and his friends got into when they thought that nobody was looking, about the half siblings he hadn’t met until he was ten years old and about how mental illness had followed him around for most of his life.

If you’re a fan of the Williams you’ve seen on screen and are afraid to read this for fear of it changing your perception of him, then don’t read it.  It will make you see just how brave he was and how while he was struggling and hating himself he wouldn’t stand to see others in pain and went out of his way to make people smile.  You will watch Good Will Hunting and Dead Poets Society with a different frame of mind, and you’ll smile sadly, possibly through tears, every time you watch Mrs. Doubtfire, but what could be better than a book that can evoke feeling with nothing more than the words its written in? Not a whole lot.

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Book Review: Black Klansman by Ron Stallworth

https://booklandvernon.com/i/m.php?b=MWp_c1qAP1z6vvP-HYYvxg

Reviewed by: Savannah
Genre: Biography
Format: Paperback

Page count: 224 Pages
Rating: 5/5 stars
In stock: Yes

I had stumbled across this book ordering for the store online and obviously, the title grabbed my attention. When I learned it was a true story I immediately ordered it and (not so) patiently awaited its arrival. I then started reading it right away, which is pretty strange as I was in the middle of another book and I’m a one book at a time type of gal. I was instantly hooked and read about half of it in one night. I’ll give you the Goodread’s synopsis,

“When detective Ron Stallworth, the first black detective in the history of the Colorado Springs Police Department, comes across a classified ad in the local paper asking for all those interested in joining the Ku Klux Klan to contact a P.O. box, Detective Stallworth does his job and responds with interest, using his real name while posing as a white man. He figures he’ll receive a few brochures in the mail, maybe even a magazine, and learn more about a growing terrorist threat in his community.

A few weeks later the office phone rings, and the caller asks Ron a question he thought he’d never have to answer, “Would you like to join our cause?” This is 1978, and the KKK is on the rise in the United States. Its Grand Wizard, David Duke, has made a name for himself, appearing on talk shows, and major magazine interviews preaching a “kinder” Klan that wants nothing more than to preserve a heritage, and to restore a nation to its former glory.

Ron answers the caller’s question that night with a yes, launching what is surely one of the most audacious, and incredible undercover investigations in history. Ron recruits his partner Chuck to play the “white” Ron Stallworth, while Stallworth himself conducts all subsequent phone conversations. During the months-long investigation, Stallworth sabotages cross burnings, exposes white supremacists in the military, and even befriends David Duke himself.

Black Klansman is an amazing true story that reads like a crime thriller, and a searing portrait of a divided America and the extraordinary heroes who dare to fight back.”

Reading this book it’s so hard to believe that its all truthful. It’s one of those books that if someone had written a fictional account you would have thought they had an extremely active imagination, but that’s not the case. It all really did happen. I personally found that this book was the perfect mix between a narrative to follow and facts. I learned a lot about the KKK that I had never known before. As a Canadian I feel like I have never really gotten a proper history lesson of the KKK as it just wasn’t relevant to the curriculum so learning about them was fascinating. Everything from why they wear what they do to even why they first started was very important to learn. I also really enjoyed getting a glimpse into police operatives in the 70s.

I think that given our current political culture this book is a very important read. Reading and knowing about the hatred of our past and being able to relate that to current events that are happening.  This book is also a really short and quick read so that’s can always an added bonus! Now, I just cant wait to see the film adaptation and compare the two.

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Book Review: The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin

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Reviewed by: Elise
Genre: Fiction/Romance/Survival
Format: Paperback

Page count: 458 Pages
Rating: 4/5 stars
In stock: Yes

I’ve always loved reading books about survival and making it in the wilderness. I remember re-reading Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet as a kid over and over until the book was practically falling apart and then reading it some more. There’s something about following a character as they have to fight for their life that I find exhilarating. Journeying with them as they face the odds, rooting for them when they succeed, and feeling such real disappointment when mother nature gets the best of them. For this reason I picked up The Mountain Between Us knowing nothing more then it was a story of survival and the cover was graced by the beautiful Kate Winslet.

Let me just say I loved this book. I didn’t expect a whole lot from it but I was happily surprised by the added theme of romance throughout. To give you a quick run down without spoiling anything the book follows a gifted surgeon named Ben Payne when his flight home gets cancelled due to poor weather and Ben makes the decision to charter a plane inviting along magazine writer Ashley Knox, afraid she will miss her upcoming wedding. Unthinkable tragedy strikes and the next thing you know the two newly strangers find themselves stranded in Utah’s remote wilderness in the dead of winter.

The thing that really made the book stand out to me was the characters personalities, the relationship that develops between them, and the chapters that flashback to Ben’s life before the crash. Ben is so easy to love. He is kind and considerate, loves his wife, and is loyal to Ashley and dedicated to making sure she makes it out alive. What I found really interesting though is the guilt he feels for getting Ashley stuck in this situation in the first place. He is determined to make sure either they both make it out or both die trying. Never once does it cross his mind to leave her despite Ashley’s persistence and the indisputable fact he would have a much better chance of survival.

They are both such strong characters and I loved getting to read about how they handle the situations they find themselves in and the mental and physical toll it takes on both of them. They end up creating such a strong bond and having to rely on each other for everything and I’ll tell you that I definitely did not see the ending coming but I absolutely loved it and thought it brought the whole thing together perfectly. I would definitely recommend this book for anyone looking for a little excitement who likes survival type wilderness stories or a little romance without going overboard.

PS. Do not watch the movie if you have read or plan on reading the book. It completely ruins everything good about it and made me angry!!!

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Book Review: The Little Paris Bookshop By Nina George

https://booklandvernon.com/i/m.php?b=p4eS1xxsEx7cl5IUyprcGg

Reviewed by Nicole

Paperback

Pages 390

Goodreads Rating: 3.5/5

I would recommend The Little Paris Bookshop to all those wanderlust souls. This is the perfect summer vacation read for those who can’t escape to Europe but want to; it left me in a Parisian world of my own sitting by the Seine River with a chocolate croissant in hand and then sailing down the French canals to the Mediterranean Sea. However, this book is more than meets the eye, it is French through and through, it is wistful and yet, woeful at the same time. Monsieur Perdu, the owner of the bookshop (which is actually a floating houseboat on the Seine) is a literary apothecary, he prescribes books to his customers, not based on what they came in looking for but instead what they need, “Perdu reflected that it was a common misconception that booksellers looked after books. They look after people.” This is a novel that delves into the journey of grieving as Perdu works through his own lost love. The Little Paris Bookshop portrays the hope of new beginnings, finding oneself, and the power that books have in changing lives.

“Books are more than doctors, of course. Some novels are loving, lifelong companions; some give you a clip around the ear; others are friends who wrap you in warm towels when you’ve got those autumn blues. And some…well, some are pink candy floss that tingles in your brain for three seconds and leaves a blissful voice. Like a short, torrid love affair.”

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Book Review: This is Really Happening

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Reviewed By: Alex

Genre: Humor/Biography

Page Count: 272

Format: Paperback

In Stock: Yes

Rating: 9/10

What? Alex is writing a book review?!? Yes! This book inspired me to write a review about it, that’s how much I enjoyed it! (If you’re not a fan of exclamation points this review is not for you!)

Now this isn’t a book that I’d normally pick up, I tend to personally read youth or science fiction books, but for some reason or another this one caught my eye.  Not going to lie, it was probably the bear talking through a speech bubble that initially grabbed my attention.

The synopsis on the back further peaked my interest;

With humor and heart, Erin chronicles everything from her first kiss (“Sean’s tongue! In my mouth! Slippery and wet like a slug in the rain”) to her struggles with anxiety (“When people throw caution to the wind, I am stuck imagining the poor soul who has to break his back sweeping caution into the dustpan”).  She writes about surviving cancer at age nineteen and learning of her mother’s own diagnosis within the same year, and her attempts to hide her diagnosis from friends to avoid “un-normaling” everything.

That roller coaster ride of a synopsis does no justice to just how laugh out loud worthy (laugh out loud, not just LOL) and heartfelt this book really is! A particular moment I enjoyed was the anecdote about when Erin her boyfriend and one of their friends went camping on a cross country road trip, and a bear appeared outside of their tent.  I laughed so loudly that people in the area looked at me funny.  I still think about the general situation she was in and how comically they handled it frequently.

The heartfelt parts were so real and for lack of a better phrase free of the BS usually found in these sorts of humorous anthologies.  When she had her first kiss, the descriptors she used were awkward and true, and just so unusual! making it all that more enjoyable to read and experience with her, her cancer story was traumatic as it would be for anyone, but she presented it in a lighthearted, lust-for-life kind of way without taking away from the seriousness of what she and those around her were going through.

Erin Chack is now a senior writer for Buzzfeed and I unashamedly follow her on both Buzzfeed and social media, (not in a creepy way though!)  and she still seems to get up to the crazy stuff she told about in her book! 10/10 would recommend for those who want to laugh, maybe cry and just explode with the all of the feelings that come from those little moments that make you think, “This is really Happening”.

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Book Review: The Power by Naomi Alderman

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Reviewed by: Jen
Genre: Science Fiction
Format: Hardcover
Page count: 400 Pages

Rating: 5 /5 stars
In stock: Yes – currently on our 25% off bestsellers wall

I’m 99% certain that this is my first ever Science Fiction read. At the risk of sounding like a celebrity worshiping sheep (WAIT….OMG, AM I A CELEBRITY WORSHIPING SHEEP?!), I’ll admit that what compelled me to pick it up was a post by Olivia Wilde on Instagram, with caption ‘Believe the hype’. I hadn’t heard any of said hype, nor did I spend much time sorting out what the book was about before picking it up. That said, Olivia Wilde fights a good social justice fight on social media, for whatever that’s worth, so her post coupled with seeing the cover adorned by Margaret Atwood’s testimonial: ‘Electrifying! Shocking! Will knock your socks off! Then you’ll think twice, about everything!’ was enough for me to venture beyond my comfort zone and become a proud first-time SciFi reader.

This review is not going to make the ranks of the highly thoughtful, intellectual ones I read about The Power online. I’m still not even entirely sure I understood most of the book, but that’s not really anything new for me. All I know is this: I could not put this book down once I started it. And this: it made me feel all kinds of ways – puffed up with ‘YAS! YOU GO, GIRL!’ + blind, fearful rage about how this SCIENCE FICTION BOOK TOUCHED WAAAAAAY TOO CLOSE TO HOME + pure and utter discomfort about all members of the human race…a pretty straightforward case of misanthropy, really.

Here’s a quick synopsis from the book’s publisher: In The Power, the world is a recognizable place: there’s a rich Nigerian boy who lounges around the family pool; a foster kid whose religious parents hide their true nature; an ambitious American politician; a tough London girl from a tricky family. But then a vital new force takes root and flourishes, causing their lives to converge with devastating effect. Teenage girls now have immense physical power–they can cause agonizing pain and even death. And, with this small twist of nature, the world drastically resets.

And ohhhhh, snap – does it reset! The narratives of all of these characters leap and bound and twist and turn and sneak up on you. I particularly love this take by NPR, “Novels based on premises like the one at the core of The Power can quickly become little more than thought experiments, but Alderman dodges this trap deftly — her writing is beautiful, and her intelligence seems almost limitless. She also has a pitch-dark sense of humor that she wields perfectly.”  As important as this book’s ability to elicit all the feels is the fact that it grips readers of all genres, and that is why it has been on Bookland’s 25% off bestseller wall for a good 6 months (and counting), and why its list of 2017 awards is a long one. The potential for this book to turn non-readers into readers is huge, and that pleases me greatly. For that reason, I was ok with the fact that I constantly envisioned the chapter scenes in movie form, and pondered who would play Roxy Monke, one of the many female protagonists in The Power’s pages – something I rarely do while reading.

It also pleased me to read that this was one of President Obama’s favorite reads of 2017. Don’t we just miss him so much, though? Even more so after reading The Power, that’s for damn sure.

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