Thursday, March 26, 2015

Recommended Reading: That Summer by Lauren Willig

18404166Book Description:

2009: When Julia Conley hears that she has inherited a house outside London from an unknown great-aunt, she assumes it’s a joke. She hasn't been back to England since the car crash that killed her mother when she was six, an event she remembers only in her nightmares. But when she arrives at Herne Hill to sort through the house—with the help of her cousin Natasha and sexy antiques dealer Nicholas—bits of memory start coming back. And then she discovers a pre-Raphaelite painting, hidden behind the false back of an old wardrobe, and a window onto the house's shrouded history begins to open...

1849: Imogen Grantham has spent nearly a decade trapped in a loveless marriage to a much older man, Arthur. The one bright spot in her life is her step-daughter, Evie, a high-spirited sixteen year old who is the closest thing to a child Imogen hopes to have. But everything changes when three young painters come to see Arthur's collection of medieval artifacts, including Gavin Thorne, a quiet man with the unsettling ability to read Imogen better than anyone ever has. When Arthur hires Gavin to paint her portrait, none of them can guess what the hands of fate have set in motion.

Lauren Willig is most known for her Secret History of the Pink Carnation books; a comedic historical-romance series based around Napoleonic-era spies. However, in recent years she's been branching out into standalone novels with much different tones. That Summer still has its share of humor and romance, but on the whole it's a more serious book. It's intense, but it's not a whirlwind of overwrought emotions. Slimmer than the Pink Carnation books, yet with a new layer of complexity. There's something about it that's calculating, which suits its content very well. It's comprehensively researched, you get dropped right into the world of pre-Raphaelite artists, but Willig never allows the research to overwhelm the story itself. The characterization is perfect the whole way through, and you'll still be thinking about these people long after their stories are over... Be warned, the ending is shocking. Not everything turns out well.

Released last June, That Summer isn't your typical light beach read, but it's still a great choice heading into the summer months!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Recommended Reading: Food Rules by Michael Pollan

Book Description:
Food rules book cover.jpg
Eating doesn't have to be so complicated. In this age of ever-more elaborate diets and conflicting health advice, Food Rules brings a welcome simplicity to our daily decisions about food. Written with the clarity, concision and wit that has become bestselling author Michael Pollan's trademark, this indispensable handbook lays out a set of straightforward, memorable rules for eating wisely, one per page, accompanied by a concise explanation. It's an easy-to-use guide that draws from a variety of traditions, suggesting how different cultures through the ages have arrived at the same enduring wisdom about food. Whether at the supermarket or an all-you-can-eat buffet, this is the perfect guide for anyone who ever wondered, "What should I eat?"

In 2009, Michael Pollan, author of books like The Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food, condensed the messages of his previous works into one easy-to-read introduction. If you're struggling with a New Year's resolution -- or just trying to eat better, or even just wondering HOW -- Food Rules is a great choice. The basic rule is threefold: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." Pollan breaks each prong down into simple guidelines and explanations. For instance, under the "eat food" section, he advises to only eat what your grandmother would recognize as food -- thereby cutting out anything overprocessed. While some of his rules may not apply in every situation, this book is still a fantastic starting point!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Recommended Reading: "Ms. Marvel Vol. 1: No Normal" by G. Willow Wilson

20898019Book Description: 

Marvel Comics presents the new Ms. Marvel, the groundbreaking heroine that has become an international sensation! 

Kamala Khan is an ordinary girl from Jersey City — until she's suddenly empowered with extraordinary gifts. But who truly is the new Ms. Marvel? Teenager? Muslim? Inhuman? Find out as she takes the Marvel Universe by storm! When Kamala discovers the dangers of her newfound powers, she unlocks a secret behind them, as well. Is Kamala ready to wield these immense new gifts? Or will the weight of the legacy before her be too much to bear? Kamala has no idea, either. But she's comin' for you, New York!

It's history in the making from acclaimed writer G. Willow Wilson (Air, Cairo) and beloved artist Adrian Alphona (RUNAWAYS)! Collecting MS. MARVEL (2014) #1-5 and material from ALL-NEW MARVEL NOW! POINT ONE #1.

G. Willow Wilson's new series Ms. Marvel is one of the hottest comics of the past year, featuring a brand-new heroine in the Marvel Comics lineup. Kamala Khan, the young woman who accidentally gains the power to shapeshift and transform, begins as a relatable high-schooler. She's geeky, charming, friendly, and funny from the beginning, but as the series goes on, she also becomes surprisingly charismatic. She's creative in using her powers, she's honest with herself and others, and she always searches for the right thing to do -- not the easiest or the least-bad thing. Most intriguingly for a superhero, she also searches for ways to resolve problems without using violence.

The writing is excellent, plus it's worth taking the time to read slowly because of all the little sight gags in each panel. The plot contains several guest appearances from other Marvel characters like Wolverine and the Inhumans, but you don't need any special knowledge to enjoy this comic -- just jump right in!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Recommended Reading: The Bad Kitty series by Nick Bruel

Bad Kitty is a unique series about a singularly ill-behaved cat,and all her friends and relatives. Each new addition plays with the form a little more, and expands Bad Kitty's circle of acquaintances! The first installment is a picture book with several fun rhyming lists, and the second book (Poor Puppy) builds on the same formula, adding new characters and some counting. Later books become more like easy chapter books, or hybrids of the two forms -- some are mostly text with lots of pictures, while others are mostly pictures with a little text. Kitty's friends include the puppy, the baby, all the cats on her street, Uncle Murray her petsitter, and more! Each book includes alphabetical lists, but as the series progresses they also include counting, fun facts about cats, different picture styles, etc. Kids with housecats will definitely recognize Kitty's antics, and since the series can progress along with a developing reader, it's a great choice for all ages.