Friday, September 21, 2018

Harry's Trees by Jon Cohen

Readers who likes eccentric characters and strange twists of fate will love Harry's Trees. 

Oriana and Amanda live near the woods in the Endless Mountains area of Pennsylvania. Life is ordinary until Amanda's perfect husband and Oriana's perfect father dies. 

 Dean dies sprawled out like a snow angel in a snowy field. His buddy, Ronnie, is convinced there are feather impressions in the snow. He believes Dean has become some sort of  winged creature--a red-tailed hawk--who can interact with the townspeople after his death. 

But its more than feathers that take on a larger significance. The lottery ticket Harry bought is piece of bad magic, an unlucky talisman.

Amanda Jeffers, Oriana's mother, doesn't believe in miracles, fairy tales, or magic but nonetheless she shelters Harry. She lets him rent out her tree house because they are in the same club--both having survived a year after a spouse's death.

Amanda thinks Harry is safe--that he is a "bland, levelheaded bureaucrat who understood rules." Little does she know that Harry is the opposite of what she thinks.

Harry is just like the "grum" in the story Oriana loves from Olive Perkins' library. He is the catalyst that will change everyone perspective; this is, if his brother, Wolf, doesn't catch up with him first.

Wolf is appropriately named because he is greedy and destructive--the villain of Harry's childhood. His greed is the opposite of Harry's altruism. 

Wolf is drawn to the only other character who is extremely voracious--Stu Gipner. Will Wolf and Stu bring destruction to the fairy tale world Harry and Oriana have constructed? Will Amanda, who is jaded and practical, believe in the fairy tale? Will Harry, who has always taken the safe road, be willing to take a risk?

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

The Dark Side of Innocence: Growing up Bipolar by Terri Cheney



Terri Lynn was popular--she was a cheerleader and a Mauna Loa, a popular girls' group. She sat by the tiger--her school had a statue of a tiger where the popular kids gathered. Stoners and nerds weren't allowed anywhere near it.

Despite this, Terri Lynn is deeply unhappy. She contents almost every day with something she calls "the Black Beast." Under his direction, she alternates between being an people-pleasing overachiever and a teen who drinks, runs away from home, and wrecks her beloved car. She also writes till her fingers cramp, makes out with boys, and cuts herself with knives and pins.

She doesn't know it at the time but later she learns that "the Black Beast" is bipolar disorder. Cheney, who has also written Manic about her adult experience with bipolar disorder, writes eloquently about her childhood and adolescent battle with the disorder.


During a manic phase, Terri discards the graduation speech she had practiced and creates a new one on the spot. Luckily, her speech is well-received though it does raise eyebrows. 

Terri believes her drive is the catalyst for the "Black Beast." She vows not to strive for perfection at Vassar. As she explains in the afterward, though, and in Manic, her manic phases return with a vengeance.

Few books are written about mental illness and even fewer are written as well as this one. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Mr. Tender's Girl by Carter Wilson


Quite possibly there's no worst feeling than be watched, scrutinized or stalked. Mr. Tender's Girl captures the nightmare of being observed by a group of online "fans." 

At fourteen, Alice Hill is a victim of a horrible crime. Her father's creation, Mr. Tender, the devious hero of the eponymous graphic novel, has inspired two of her friends to stab her. 

To escape the media and the sensationalism of the crime, Alice, who is British, changes her name and goes to America. 

She thinks this is enough to protect her anonymity until a strange package arrives--the last book in the Mr. Tender series.

Her father, who died in London, never finished the Mr. Tender series. In fact, he never penned another drawing after the vicious attack on his daughter occurred. So, where did the package, postmarked from England, come from? 

The graphic novel is mostly blank but a few frames depicted her apartment in Manchester, MA convince Alice someone is watching her. 

She discovers that she is the "star" of an underground online community that have been discussing her case for years. They have been collecting and posting photographs of her, her house, her coffee shop.

But that's not all. Alice is also being stalked by an associate of an ex-boyfriend who tries to extort money from her. The associate comes to the coffee shop demanding cash or he will implicate Alice in her ex's crimes.

This is a taut, psychological thriller that was inspired by two true life events--the Slenderman stabbings and the Theo Van Gogh killing in Amsterdam.

What I liked best about this novel was the character development of Alice. Though she is a victim and isolated in the beginning, she emerges as a self-aware protagonist who is in charge of her own life.

Friday, June 1, 2018

June is Audiobook Month

Digital audio books may be checked out with a library card from Overdrive and Recorded Books. 

To find digital audio books you can check out, go to the library website, http://www.rockwallcountytexas.com/library

Choose Resources
Choose Databases and Downloads
Choose Overdrive or RBDigital Audiobooks

Audio books are a good way to try new genres and authors. Try this audio book which was named Audio book of the year, Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders, narrated by Nick Offerman, David Sedaris, and others.





More award winning audio titles can be found on the Audio Publisher Association's website, https://www.audiopub.org/winners/2017-audies-1







Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Photo Sharing Sites and Apps

Best sites and apps for sharing pictures online are Flickr, Instagram, SmugMug, Google Photos, 500px.com, Wix.com. 

Though there is a free level, some of the sites--Flickr, SmugMug, 500px, and Wix.com--have a paid plan as well. 

Decide if you need a basic or paid plan. An excellent article on this topic called "Best Ways to Share Your Spring Flowers Pictures" can be found at TechBoomers.com.




unsplash-logoBrooke Lark

Monday, May 21, 2018

Book Review: Mother, Mother

Mother Mother by Koren Zailckas


After a drug-fueled night that Violet has trouble 
remembering, she is sent to a mental health clinic. 
Her mother, Josephine, insists that she has tried to hurt her brother, Will.

Though she can't remember the incident, Violet thinks she has been framed. 
She does not believe she would intentionally hurt Will.

What happened that night is slowly unfolds through the eyes of two of the novel's 
characters, William and Violet. 

Rose, who ran away from home before the incident, has her own emotional problems. 
Though readers never get her point of view, she blames her mother for pressuring 
her to have an abortion--a decision that has left her emotionally scarred. 

Trapped in lock down, Violet has a hard time discerning what is happening at home. 
She tries to contact Rose because she thinks her sister is on her side.  

Violet's yearns to be emancipated from her psychopathic mother, Josephine. 
This wish becomes even stronger when she learns the depth of her mother's deceit. 

Zailckas is a writer to watch; this novel unfolds slowly and the
though the characters are deeply flawed, they ring true. 

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Going on a trip?


Going on a trip this summer? Don't forget that you can use your library card to checkout digital audiobooks from Overdrive or Recorded Books (RBDigital).

Audiofile prints a list of exceptional audiobooks, Earphones Award winners. https://www.audiofilemagazine.com/earphones-awards/

If you're going on a family trip, you can find award-winning audiobooks for children and young adults.
http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/bookmedia/odysseyaward

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