Books, Uh, Find a Way: A “Jurassic Park” Book List

What’s up, Dino Nerds! “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” has come out and expanded the “Jurassic Park” franchise, and if you like dinosaurs fighting each other that’s gonna be your kind of movie. We here at The Library Ladies are more fans of the original movie, 1993’s “Jurassic Park” (why earlier this month Kate went to a Fantasy Sci-Fi Convention in an Ian Malcolm Cosplay). Given how fun it is to pick books for fictional characters, we thought we’d try our hand at recommending books for some of our favorite “Jurassic Park” players! While there are lots of characters to choose from, we have a feeling we’ll be picking some of the fandom’s favorites.

Dr. Alan Grant: “Tyrannosaurus Sue: The Extraordinary Saga of the Largest, Most Fought Over T-Rex Ever Found” by Steve Fiffer

Even though Alan Grant seemed to be all about the velociraptors, he sure knew a lot about the formidable T-Rex. Therefore, he would certainly be interested in the story about Sue, the largest T-Rex specimen ever found. And if the largest T-Rex ever found doesn’t get him, how about the huge scandals, legal battles, fights, and drama that went with finding it? Because Sue caused a giant circus involving paleontologists, academics, a group of Indigenous people, auctioneers, and more. Since Grant is a very capable paleontologist who is credible to a fault, I think that this book would not only fascinate him, but would also reaffirm the fact that he wouldn’t get into the mess that so many people did over some dino fossils.

Lex Murphy: “Warcross” by Marie Lu

Lex gets some unwarranted grief from some people in the “Jurassic Park” fandom, because how many of YOU know Unix Systems like she does? For this teenage self professed hacker, a thrilling YA novel with a hacker protagonist will absolutely catch her eye. That’s why Marie Lu’s “Warcross” would be a good fit for her. Warcross is a popular online game that has become quite popular in the near future. When hacker Emika Chan hacks herself into the game illegally, instead of being punished she is recruited to weed out cheaters from the game. Not only would Emika be a protagonist that Lex could really get behind, the story itself is fast paced and very tech-y based while still remaining relatable for most any reader who picks it up.

Dr. Sarah Harding: “Never Cry Wolf” by Farley Mowat

Was Sarah in the original film? No. Is she still one of Kate’s very favorite “Jurassic Park” characters? HELL YES! So therefore she gets a spot on this list. Harding is an adventurous and empathetic animal behaviorist, and because of those traits she would probably love the book “Never Cry Wolf”. Farley Mowat was sent into the wilds of Canada to try and figure out why wolves were killing Arctic Caribou and messing with the population. But while he was living in the woods with the wolves, he learned a lot about their behavior (and how they generally aren’t dangerous to humans), and became a crusader for their survival. His compassion towards the animals combined with his research would absolutely appeal to Harding

Dr. Ian Malcolm: “Annihilation” by Jeff VanderMeer

Of course we couldn’t have this list and not include our beloved Ian! Especially since we used one of his lines to title this post. Other than posing in strangely sexual positions given the life-and-death circumstances, Ian’s main role in the movie was to highlight just how little control humanity has over life itself. With this in mind, “Annihilation,” a story about a mysterious location where nature has reclaimed the land from humanity, sounds like a perfect fit. Multiple expeditions into this strange Area X have lead to various outcomes, all disastrous in their own way. The book tells the story of the twelfth expedition, one made up of four women. We’re sure Ian’s on board for that aspect of the story, too!

Dr. Ellie Sattler: “These Rebel Waves” by Sara Raasch

Ellie is the paleobotanist of the group, which means she’s focused on the plants. We also get to see her holding her own in what is a very man-dominated movie/field. So for a mixture of plants and strong women characters, we turned to the upcoming book “These Rebel Waves.” This book tells the story of the soldier Adeluna who is fighting for the freedom of her home country, a land much fought over due to its wealthy of plant magic. There are a couple dudes there, too. But we feel confident that Lu will hold her own, just like Ellie did. Woman inherits the earth, after all.

Robert Muldoon: “Death in the Long Grass” by Peter Hathaway Capstick

And last, but certainly not least, we have the badass hunter extraordinaire, Robert Muldoon. And if you’re not all either saying “Shoooot her!!” or “Clever girl” in your head right now, we’re revoking your “Jurassic Park” card. What could be more perfect for Muldoon that “Death in the Long Grass,” a book based on the Capstick’s own experiences as a big game hunter in Africa. He covers not only the traditional big baddies like lions and leopards, but also delves into the challenges of dealing with rhinos, crocodiles and the supremely underrated hippopotamus. Given that the author survived to write the book, we can assume his title isn’t quite as literal as it would be for poor Muldoon.

What are some of your favorite “Jurassic Park” characters and books you might pair with them?

Highlights: July 2018

We hope that you are all still enjoying summer time! As we start to enter the dog days of the season, our book piles keep growing, giving us lots of options to take to the pool or the lake or the park. Here are some of our most anticipated releases of July!

Serena’s Picks

22817368Book: “Bright We Burn” by Kiersten White

Publication Date: July 10th, 2018

Why I’m Interested: Oh man, oh man, oh man. I’m so nervous!! I absolutely loved the first two books in this series that is re-imaging history through the perspective of Lada, a female version of Vlad the Impaler, and her brother, Radu. There were real tears in the last book and I was constantly vacillating between fear and anger as I watched my precious characters be raked across the coal again and again. And by the end, everything was even more broken than it had been to start. How can this end in anything other than gallons of even more tears?? It’s rare for me to be excited for a book that is sure to be heart-wrenching, but the masterful characterization and historical detail have carried this series so far. It’s kind of a “put me out of my misery” situation going on over here, but of the very best variety.

36896898Book: “Spinning Silver” by Naomi Novik

Publication Date: July 10th, 2018

Why I’m Interested: I absolutely adored “Uprooted” when it came out several years ago. Not only was it a completely unique fairytale that was only loosely connected to familiar stories, but it was the magical white stag in fantasy fiction: a stand alone book. So it’s weird to then be excited by a…sequel? But it’s not a sequel? But the cover art is clearly trying to pair the two together? Really, I think it’s only the cover art and the fact that this is also a fairytale that tie these two together because nothing in the description even distantly refers to events/characters from “Uprooted.” (Mostly, I’m calling “publishing shenanigans” on this one, with publishers just wanting to bank on the success of that book.)  Instead, it looks like this is going to be some type of “Rumpelstiltskin” interpretation. But, just like “Uprooted” had only minuscule parallels to “Beauty and the Beast,” I’m looking forward to what I hope will be another mostly new story with only the loosest similarities.

36518517Book: “Dreadful Company” by Vivian Shaw

Publication Date: July 31, 2018

Why I’m Interested: “Strange Practice” was a quirky little novel that completely took me by surprise last year. I don’t read that much urban fantasy, and the two series I do follow are fairly typical of the genre. So this one, set in London and featuring a heroine who serves as a doctor to the supernatural beings in her city was like a breath of fresh air! I enjoyed the many winks to classical monster/supernatural cliches and the neat tie-ins to the type of “ailments” these beings might suffer from. Gretta herself was a strong leading lady and not prone to some of the more irritating tendencies that befall other urban fantasy heroines (like rushing in even when they’re much more under-powered than their colleagues). The story also neatly tied things up in one book, but left just enough room for the story to grow. In this second outing, I’m particularly interested in who the new big bad will be and whether or not Gretta will make any inroads on the romance side of things.

Kate’s Picks

36750068Book: “The Last Time I Lied” by Riley Sager

Publication Date: July 10th, 2018

Why I’m Interested: I greatly enjoyed Sager’s debut novel “Final Girls”, so when I found out that he had a new one coming out I was all over it. While that one seemed to be an homage to the slasher killer girls of cinema, “The Last Time I Lied” seems like it’s a loving tribute to Nancy Drew and intrepid girl detectives. Our main character Emma was at Camp Nightingale when her bunkmates disappeared mysteriously. As an adult Emma is invited to come back and be a counselor at the reopened camp. But when she gets there in hopes of getting some closure, instead she finds that her friends may have been involved in a mystery… and that she may have a new, scarier one to contend with. This hits so many of the themes I love in a thriller mystery, so you know that I’m very excited for this one.

29569206Book: “Give Me Your Hand” by Megan Abbott

Publication Date: July 17th, 2018

Why I’m Interested: While I’ve had a hit or miss time with Megan Abbott up until now, her most recent book “You Will Know Me” was a definite hit for me. Abbott has a talent for writing a pretty twisted up mystery with compelling characters, and so I’ve had high hopes for “Give Me Your Hand”, her newest novel. While we aren’t dealing with gymnasts and driven teenagers this time, instead we have Diane and Kit, two women who were friends as teens, and now are pitted against each other as adults in a working environment. Even worse, Diane divulged a terrible secret to Kit when they were teens, a secret that has haunted Kit ever since. A lot of fans of thrillers have been waiting for this book, so you know the buzz is a din for it.

32928987Book: “Scream All Night” by Derek Milman

Publication Date: July 24th, 2018

Why I’m Interested: You all know that I love horror movies like whoa, and so when I heard about a book that has themes of old horror movies, a film studio, and an emancipated youth having to revisit his horror movie past, I was absolutely interested. While I’m not sure if this is something that can REALLY be classified as horror (the description makes me wonder, but what do I know, I am sure that “Scream All Night” is going to have a lot of fun horror easter eggs that I will enjoy spotting. Hell, even the main character’s first name is Dario, and that alone made me smile. Even if this doesn’t end up being a ‘true’ horror novel, the themes of going home again, horror cinema, and quirky characters is enough to make me truly intrigued by this book.

What books are you looking forward to this month? Let us know in the comments!

 

Not Just Books: June 2018

The weather is warm, the sun is shining, and summer reading programs have started in libraries. It must be June! Between vacations and friend time, cook outs and hang outs, we have been enjoying our book piles and all sorts of other things. Here are our non-book picks for June!

Serena’s Picks

mv5bzgjinju3ztutn2mxnc00ythjltgwn2etnmvmzjkxytuxnjfhxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymtkzoduwnzk-_v1_sy1000_cr006661000_al_TV Show: Masterchef

I probably highlighted this last year too, but I’m too lazy to check. Either way, I always look forward to summers and the return of yet another cooking competion show. While “Top Chef” and “The Great British Bake Off” are still my favorites, this one has been running strong for several years and I’ve watched faithfully the entire time. The judges have been rotating quite a lot, so I was surprised to tune in for the beginning of this season and see the return of Joe and the lost of Christina. It was a mix of feelings as I always liked Joe’s utter lack of f’s to give about doling out harsh criticism. It wasn’t a true season until he threw someone’s plate of food into the trash can. But Christina had also warmed to me quite a bit over the last few seasons, and I appreciated the show’s attempt to try to bring baking into it a bit more through her expertise. Ah well, change happens. I’m intrigued by the new format of the three judges each having teams, so we’ll see where this ends up going!

mv5bmdeyn2u1ytitndy1zi00yjljlwi5yzitnwu3ywviyjhiztgxxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvynjg4nzayota-_v1_sy1000_cr006661000_al_TV Show: “Elementary”

OMG, it’s been FOREVER since this show was on! And by “forever,” I mean an entire year. For a show that had regularly started each fall, this was a big disappointment when I started scouring TV schedules last September and couldn’t find it anywhere only to realize that it had been pushed back until May. I mean, I guess if the choice was cancellation or turning it into a summer show, I’ll take this, but man, the wait was long. I need me some Johnny Lee Miller! It also feels like the show has been revitalized during this delay. I was never a fan of the whole Shinwell arc last year and was more than happy to hate on the character even more now that we can blame him for Holmes challenging mental health condition. I’m also excited to see the show introduce what hopefully will be a season-long through line about this mysterious villain lurking around in the background. I like the procedural elements of this show, but I’d also be happy if it added a few more “Dexter-esque” serialized villains, too.

rs-130097-snood-1800-1394566664Arcade Game: “Snood”

Let’s go back in time! As you will see later, Kate is following the more cutting edge games while I seem to be traveling back to the good ole 90s where gaming was much more simple. This wasn’t my own choice but instead that of my husband, while on several long plane rides this last month he insisted on downloading this old game and having us play it obsessively for hours at a time. And I have to say, it was quite addicting for being such a simple concept. I was also terrible at it. While he quickly pulled off complicated bank shots off the walls, I was lucky if I even hit the target I was aiming for that was straight ahead of me. Ah well. We can’t be good at everything. But I still had way more fun than one would expect. I mean, who needs inflight entertainment when you have this gem?

Kate’s Picks

unbreakable-kimmy-schmidt-s4-poster-932x1140Netflix Show: “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” Season 4 Part 1

You know that this show was going to be on my list again, because every year I look forward to Kimmy, Titus, Jacqueline, and Lillian getting into dark and goofy hijinks all over New York. This season the show tackles a number of relevant issues in its own absurd, yet shrewd, way, from white privilege to sexual harassment to certain streaming services that make a WHOLE lot of money off of true crime documentaries, and I was laughing the entire way. Sadly, it is a short season with the first half out now and the second half coming out in the future, as it’s also the last season of this amazing show. I’m sad, but also ready to see where all of my favorite characters end up (please oh PLEASE let Titus and Mikey end up together!!!).

pokemon-go-news-942620Video Game: “Pokemon Go”

YEP THAT’S RIGHT, I FELL BACK INTO THIS GAME!!!! When it was announced that there was going to be a new Pokemon game on the Switch, I was pretty stoked. But then when they said that there was going to be a tie in to Pokemon Go, I felt a need to dive back into that addictive game. What I like about Pokemon Go is that it lets me fulfill my collecting desires, and that it makes it so (in good weather) my husband and I can go for walks and collaborate together on tasks, be it tracking Pokemon or teaming up to take on a gym. It’s just a fun little game. And while I may not know really any of the new generation Pokemon, going out and taking the steps to evolve the friggin’ flying dragonbeast Gyarados made the game TOTALLY WORTH getting back into.

70153390-1TV Show: “Criminal Minds”

Oddly enough, I only watched “Criminal Minds” on and off in college and didn’t really watch any more of it beyond then. You’d think that I would have been all over that show given that it’s about serial killers and the quirky and damaged people who hunt them. So I decided to jump in and watch the show on Netflix, and I must say it’s been a pretty breezy experience. While I have to imagine that it’s kind of lost it’s luster (it’s STILL ON), the older seasons are still chilling and highly watchable. I like trying to figure out the real life inspirations for some of the storylines, and I like watching the members of the Behavioral Analysis Unit track the killers. My favorites are ALWAYS going to be bubbly computer hacker Garcia, earnest wunderkid Reid, and no nonsense and sarcastic Prentiss. We’ll see how long I can keep going on this show (thirteen seasons, y’all), but for now I’m all in.

 

Beach Reads: Summer 2018

Back for 2018, here is a list of some more favorite beach reads! “Beach read” is a very fast and loose term for books people read over the beautiful summer months when we really should be outside “doing things” but are instead reading…maybe outside. Some people see these months as an opportunity to slog through long classics (we’re looking at you “Moby Dick”) before the busy-ness of of the fall starts up, but for the sake of this list, we’re limiting our choices to stand alone, mostly feel good books (though there’s some obvious leeway here for Kate’s horror tastes!) that could be easily brought along on vacations. So, still a very loose definition, but hey, we had to start somewhere! We will select one title for each of the genres we most read.

Serena’s Picks:

 22544764Fantasy Title: “Uprooted” by Naomi Novik

This book is a few years old now, but I always go back to it when I’m asked about favorite stand alone fantasy fiction. It’s one of those magical unicorns of a book that somehow walks the line between being a fairytale retelling (“Beauty and the Beast”) but blurring the events and twisting things around so thoroughly that by the end of the book, you’re questioning whether this wasn’t just an entirely new fairytale on its own and any similarities were just happen chance. I didn’t have a single criticism of this book when I read it, with its strong main character, beautiful writing, and complex magical world. What’s more, while it is a standalone novel, Novik will be releasing another fairtyale-esque book, “Spinning Silver,” in July and I can tell you right now, that one’s amazing, too!

24100285Science Fiction Title: “Space Opera” by Catherynne M. Valente

I haven’t actually read this title yet, but I have much love for Valente’s “Fairyland” series as has been well documented on this blog. I also have two librarian bookclub friends whose judgement I trust who gave it high ratings, so on with the recommendation! The description of this one is about as wacky as it gets: intergalactic Olympics, but not so much the sports and more singing and dancing. And Earth has just made its first grand entrance. Will there song and dance numbers have enough glitter and air guitar to make the final cut? I don’t even know what more to say, but that the human band is called “Decibel Jones and the Absolute Zeroes.” I mean, c’mon, this has to be a hellava ride!

28186322Mystery Title: “A Curious Beginning” by Deanna Raybourn

This was a no-brainer pick for me. I just discovered this historical mystery series this spring, and have absolutely loved the two I have read (the review of the second book to come shortly!). With its light tone, witty leading lady, and grumbly but endearing romantic interest, there’s nothing left wanting for a mystery title to while away the hours outside in the sun. Veronica Speedwell is right up there with Amelia Peabody and some of my other favorite female sleuths. The mystery itself was strong, even if the ending was a bit rushed. But who really cares. I was just there for the snappy banter and blistering romantic tension!

33574143Historical Title: “The Beautiful Ones” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Technically, this one has magic in it, too. But its such a non-integral part of the story, in my opinion, that I’m throwing this one in here anyways. Mostly, this book has been criminally under-recognized and I want to do my part to bring it to the attention of readers who enjoy British manners and society books. In many ways, it reads the way a modern Jane Austen novel would. The primary crux of the story is one of relationships and the roles that women are expected to play in society in a time period where their options were limited. Here we see two very different women who have chosen different paths. One, giving up one dream of the future in order to conform to the expectations of family and society. The other still rebelling and pushing back against what is expected of her. And between them, one man who is still not sure of his own place in the world. This is a sure hit for fans for historical romances.

Kate’s Picks

7466727Horror Title: “The Amityville Horror” by Jay Anson

So I just want to say straight away that this book is advertised and technically classified as ‘non-fiction’, but it’s pretty common knowledge now that the Amityville Haunting was a big ol’ hoax. It was all a huge distraction and cash cow to make some bank for some people and to provide a legal defense for another (specifically Ronny DeFeo Jr, who killed his entire family with a shotgun). But the story of the Lutz Family moving into the large house on 112 Ocean Avenue is a VERY entertaining read, even if it is a big lie. Anson tells a haunted house story with a certain matter-of-factness and a fast paced vigor, and the now notorious story is truly best on the page. From flies to a ghost pig named Jody to the sounds of a MARCHING BAND stomping through the house, this novel hits all the cliches, and yet feels fun and fresh in spite of it. If you want a quick beach read that is just fluff and fun, “The Amityville Horror” is the way to go when you let go of the illusion that it’s true.

5886881Thriller Title: “Dark Places” by Gillian Flynn

So unlike everyone else in the world, I was NOT impressed by the book “Gone Girl”. I didn’t find any of the characters likable, I called the twist early but didn’t enjoy the journey to the reveal, and I hated the ending. So if people ask me what Gillian Flynn I do like, I will ALWAYS say “Dark Places”. Libby Day survived a family massacre that her own brother was arrested for. Her notoriety dried up when media interest went elsewhere, and now she’s worn out and dysfunctional as an adult. But when a group of armchair detectives approach her with the theory that her brother didn’t do it, she is pulled back into her past, and starts to wonder if everything she remembers about that horrible night is actually untrue. This is a fast paced and well done thriller, and unlike “Gone Girl” there are characters here that you can absolutely root for. I remember devouring it in a couple sittings. If you hated “Gone Girl”, this is proof that Gillian Flynn still may have something to offer you.

22040598Graphic Novel Title: “The Sculptor” by Scott McCloud

If you are looking for romance, despair, a meditation on artistry, a very readable story, and a beautiful art style, “The Sculptor” will be a good pick for you to take on your vacation this summer. Don’t be daunted by the size; while it is a thick book, it reads very fast just because it’s so engrossing. It’s the story of a struggling sculptor named David who makes a deal with Death: he will be able to use his hands to sculpt and manipulate any kind of material and matter, but he will die in 200 days. David accepts, thinking that’s plenty of time to make his mark on history as an artist. But then he meets Meg, and love becomes a true problem for a man with so little time. While the characters in this are grating (ESPECIALLY David and Meg), the story itself is filled with such emotion and raw expression that I couldn’t put it down when I read it.

29780253

Non-Fiction Title: “Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood” by Trevor Noah

If you are a fan of “The Daily Show” you know who Trevor Noah is (and even if you aren’t a fan you probably know too). He’s a very dry, observant, and intelligent comedian who has taken over one of the great satirical platforms of our time. But in “Born a Crime” he goes back to his childhood in South Africa during and after Apartheid. The product of a bi-racial relationship (which was illegal in South Africa at the time), Noah tells stories from his childhood that run the gamut of funny, scary, and very, very devastating. Noah’s voice is quite witty and down to Earth as he recalls these various stories, and his love for his mother is powerful and leaps off the page. Plus, you will probably learn about South African history and culture, as well as a first hand account of what Apartheid did to Black South Africans while it was in place.

What books are you bringing to the beach, the cabin, or the pool with you this summer? Let us know in the comments! 

Not Just Books: May 2018

While we do love us some books, believe it not, we do have a life outside of reading. So to highlight our other pop culture interests, on the last Monday of each month, we each will highlight three other “happenings” from the last month. Big events on favorite TV shows, new movies we’ve watched, old movies we’ve “discovered,” etc. Pretty much whatever we found of particular interest outside of the book world during the last month. Share your own favorite things in the comments!

Serena’s Picks

mv5bmji0mdmzntq0m15bml5banbnxkftztgwmtm5nzm3ndm-_v1_sy1000_cr006741000_al_Movie: “A Quiet Place”

Yes, looking at that movie poster, you’re right to be thinking “Wait…this is Serena’s pick??” Well yes! While I am not the connoisseur of horror that Kate is, but I do like a specific variety of creepy films, mostly those that walk the line with science fiction. And the second I saw this trailer with Jim Hal-, I mean John Krasinksi, sneaking around a mostly silent set hunted by creepy alien/monsters, I knew this would be one I’d be checking out. And I absolutely adored it. Not only was it pitch perfect for the type of horror that I enjoy, but it felt completely new and refreshing. It’s one of those films that I found myself thinking and talking about for days after I’d seen it. I didn’t know until after the credits rolled that Krasinski was also the director of this film, and that just makes it all the more impressive. Plus there’s the cuteness factor of him and his co-star Emily Blunt being married in real life. Even if horror isn’t your first pick for movies, if you like science fiction, this is definitely worth checking out. I’ve been telling people that it’s like “Signs,” but, you know, better.

mv5bmjmxnjy2mdu1ov5bml5banbnxkftztgwnzy1mtuwntm-_v1_sy1000_cr006741000_al_Movie: “Avengers: Infinity War”

As Kate will admit to later in this post, I am the more dedicated Marvel movie fan of the two of us. I think I’ve seen all of them. Probably all in theaters, too. And while I’m still always going to prefer my beloved Superman and DC comics as a whole, there’s no denying that Marvel has completely blown DC out of the water with their film franchise. I mean, even this, a movie so bloated that even the most dedicated fan would have a hard time naming every cast member, somehow was pulled off and fun as heck. Fun, being the key word! coughDCcough. But the fun isn’t the heart of this movie, and while it does help lighten the mood, this is an action-packed culmination of years of build up. And it doesn’t flinch away from the realities of what a powerful villain would actually be capable of. Marvel’s most successful move, probably, is setting out enough pieces and clues to leave fans talking and theorizing while they’re forced to wait another year to get the second half.

mv5bmja4njuzntk4nv5bml5banbnxkftztgwodi1oty0ntm-_v1_sy1000_cr006741000_al_TV Show: “Arrested Development”

I know that I am very late to this train, but my husband has been making all of these jokes, and I’ve been so confused. Really, it wasn’t until I started watching this that I realized some of his jokes were even referencing something. I just thought he was kind of weird on his own. But I’ve finally arrived and I’ve been gobbling up this show with nightly installments. It’s another perfect palate cleanser from some stressful weeks with its quirky cast of characters and recurring jokes. I’m pretty picky about my comedy and there’s really only a handful of shows I’ve really enjoyed, so it always feels like a little bit of magic when I find a new one. I’m still in the early seasons, and I know it was cancelled and brought back, so I’m curious to see how it changes and compares as I get further in.

Kate’s Picks

22c4252b09ebb1d5923eea34392f2e1d495b8cb5Netflix Series: “Evil Genius”

So I was just starting college when the Pizza Bomber Case happened. Basically, a pizza delivery man named Brian Wells entered a bank with a bomb collar strapped around his neck and robbed the place. After police got him quarantined, not believing the the bomb was live, it exploded, killing him. I was both horrified and fascinated by the case, but it kind of fell out of my focus for awhile. Now, Netflix has put out the true crime docuseries “Evil Genius”, which chronicles the crime and the aftermath. And it is BANANAS. It also examines mental illness in American society, and how sometimes people who need help don’t get it… which can lead to deadly consequences. It’s an engrossing and disturbing four part series, and I devoured it in a day. But warning: It is graphic. It does show the actual explosion around Wells’s neck.

cobra-kai-william-zabkaYouTube Red Series: “Cobra Kai

Even though I was born in the 80s and did sustain myself on a steady diet of 80s cinema, I never really got into “The Karate Kid”. It’s fine, but it wasn’t a go to like “Bill and Ted” or “Ghostbusters”. But I was definitely into the idea of “Cobra Kai”, a YouTube series that picks up in the present day and follows both Daniel and Johnny and what they are up to now. Daniel is a successful businessman and car salesman, while Johnny is a down on his luck loser who decides to reopen the Cobra Kai Dojo, which leads to him teaching a new generation of misfits and geeks. I never knew that I needed this, but it is pretty great. The most interesting thing about it is that it mostly focuses on Johnny, and how broken and down and out he is. It’s really cool seeing William ‘Billy’ Zabka revisit this cardboard cut out character and to give him some tragic depth (most of which being the trauma of his abusive karate teacher from the movies), while still keeping him realistically assholeish. I haven’t finished the series yet, but I’m really enjoying it.

large_dp2Movie: “Deadpool 2”

While I’m ambivalent at best when it comes to most of the Marvel Comics world, I am ALWAYS going to be a fan of Deadpool and his snarky self aware raunchiness. I loved the first “Deadpool” movie, as it’s filled with laughs, sarcasm, and a whole lot of heart, so I was eager but nervous to see “Deadpool 2”. And outside of one issue that I had with it (must we really use women’s deaths to fuel manpain?), I GREATLY enjoyed the sequel. Wade Wilson is back, he’s as meta and morally ambiguous as ever, and this time he’s recruited some other people to help him fight against the bitter and broken Cable (Josh Brolin is KILLING IT this summer, right?). But the real stand out in this movie is Julian Dennison, who plays the teenage Firefist. Firefist is an abused and lonely mutant who is going down a dark path, and Dennison plays him with pathos, heart, and yeah, a healthy dose of attitude. I never expected a “Deadpool” movie to make me cry, but Dennison achieves it. It’s not as good as the first, but it’s still pretty damn good.

 

Readers, Assemble!: An “Avengers” Book List

It’s been a while since we’ve done a book list, and since we had so much fun putting together our “Game of Thrones” book list last year, we though, why the heck be original?? Let’s just do the same thing, maybe change it up a bit, call it good! So this time, we’re focusing on another super popular series with a long list of characters: the Avengers. Again, we won’t be focusing on plot points, but instead on the characters and what books they might like. This cast list is massive so this is a totally random assortment of characters. Hopefully you’ll see a few of your favorites!

Iron Man/Tony Stark: “Iron Gold” by Pierce Brown

Sure, the name is convenient. But I swear I didn’t even think about that until after I picked the book! My first thought for Tony was the “Red Rising” saga. All of these books deal with heroism, but specifically with the hard choices and blurring lines that comes with fighting a war. Given the state that Tony has been in for the last several films, I felt that the best fit would be the most recent book in the series, “Iron Gold” that tells the story of an older, more hardened and world-weary Darrow who is still endlessly fighting a war that he is beginning to feel will never end. What’s more, he’s scared that he doesn’t want it to end. He is brilliant at what he does, but ten years of battle and making decisions that skate the moral line has taken its tole, not only on his own psyche but on his relationships with those he loves. He and Tony Stark seem to have quite a lot in common. Plus, they each get in big fights with their friends!

Black Widow: “Six of Crows” by Leigh Bardugo

We’ve just started reading this for our next bookclub book, but when I was starting to think of Black Widwo and her place in the world and on her team, I immediately thought of Inej from this book. Like Black Widow, Inej had a rough coming of age, one where she had no control of what was happening to her and what her future would be. But now, free of those restraints, she’s come into her own as a quiet but deadly force. She’s the right hand of the leader of the group and often the solid backbone behind much of the action, quickly getting done what needs to happen, without waiting for instruction or permission. They also both tend to wear black a lot and hang out on teams made up mostly of men.

Thor & Loki: “The Gospel of Loki” by Joanne M. Harris

At this point, I think Thor is just kind of baffled by his brother. Is he a bad guy? Does he have some good him? When exactly is he going to betray him next? So, it’s probably time for some investigative reading. Enter “The Gospel of Loki,” a first-person narrative by none other than Loki himself. This book is hilarious and its tone fits perfectly with the Loki we’ve come to see on screen. He wryly narrates the fall of the Norse gods and his own version of events.

Loki, that’s me.

Loki, the Light-Bringer, the misunderstood, the elusive, the handsome and modest hero of this particular tissue of lies. Take it with a pinch of salt, but it’s at least as true as the official version, and, dare I say it, more entertaining.

As for Loki, OF COURSE he’d be reading a book about himself.

Bruce Banner/The Hulk: “A Fractured Mind” by Robert Oxnam

We know that Bruce Banner is always in battle with his other personality, The Hulk. While he has been able to control this other side of him for the most part in recent films, and has been able to use his Hulk side for good, there have been and still are times that he finds it difficult to have to balance out the duality of his existence. So a book that he may find some interest in is this memoir about Dissociative Identity Disorder (aka multiple personalities). Robert Oxnam is a well renowned China scholar, and was diagnosed with DID in his middle age when other personalities started making their presences known and interfering with his life. This book is about his diagnosis, the hardships and stigma he faced, and ultimately how he approached treatment for his condition. There are lots of moments that I think Bruce would relate to, as well as a lot of hope and optimism about living with multiple personalities within one body.

T’Challa/Black Panther: “A Hundred Thousand Kingdoms” by N.K. Jemisin

T’Challa had his own hurdles to jump during his ascension to the throne of Wakana, with some family intrigue and secrets in the form of his cousin Erik Killmonger blocking his path (though not totally wrong in his points). Because of this, he might enjoy this high fantasy story by N.K. Jemisin. Not only is the City of Sky similar to Wakanda in it’s Afro-fantasy inspirations, T’Challa himself was surprised to find himself thrust into a powerful role when his father died, just as Yeine was when she returned home after her mother’s death. This is the first of a trilogy, so T’Challa will have more than one book to look forward to!

Steve Rogers/Captain America: “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak

So there is a process behind this pick, so let’s lay it out. Yes, Steve is a true American patriot and loves the U.S.A., and yes, “The Book Thief” takes place in WWII Germany and doesn’t see any time on the battlefield. But Steve is also a fan of those who fight injustice and cruelty in any form, and that is why he would like the story of Liesel. Not only is Liesel’s household hiding a Jewish man from the Nazis, Liesel herself is out there standing up against the Nazi Regime by saving books from mass burnings, an act that could have severe consequences. But like Steve before he went through his transformation, Liesel is determined and tenacious, no matter her size and no matter how dangerous the situation may be. And Steve would LOVE that.

There are SO many more Avengers that we didn’t cover here. What other books do you think some of them would like? Let us know in the comments!

Highlights: March 2018

In like a lion, out like a lamb! That’s what they say about March. Up here in Minnesota it’s still a bit hard to know if it’s going to be brisk and temperate, or cold and snowy. But with each day we move closer to Spring, so we have that going for us! And since it’s a new month, that means we have some new books we’re looking forward to!

Serena’s Picks

36194120Book: “Burn Bright” by Patricia Briggs

Publication Date: March 6, 2018

Why I’m Interested: While I haven’t quite loved the “Alpha & Omega” offshoot as much as the original “Mercy Thompson” series, I still never turn down an opportunity to read a new Briggs novel! I don’t really ready a lot of urban fantasy, having had a pretty hit/miss history with the genre. However, Briggs’ world of paranormal beings and snappy heroines always seems to hit the spot. Anna herself can be a bit too perfect at times, but let’s be real, I’m here for Charles, her hunky werewolf husband! It looks as if this book will take place during the events of the last Mercy Thompson book which found Mercy and Co. running around Europe. Which means….what shenanigans were being gotten into back home? We shall find out!

35297394Book: “The Wicked Deep” by Shea Ernshaw

Publication Date: March 6, 2018

Why I’m Interested: The book description lists one for fans of “Practical Magic” and “Hocus Pocus.” So…yeah, I’m there. From the description, it also sounds quite a lot like it’s drawn inspirations from sirens, with three witches who were drowned many centuries ago, returning to lure boys to their deaths in the sea each summer. Of course, we have our heroine, a local girl. And our hero, a poor unsuspecting boy who wanders into the wrong town during the wrong part of the year. This book could either be fantastic or trope-ridden. I have hopes for the former, but whenever there are descriptions of “weak-willed” girls being temptresses, I’m also a bit hesitant about what exactly we’re getting at.

33918881Book: “The Heart Forger” by Rin Chupeco

Publication Date: March 20, 2018

Why I’m Interested: Really, Kate and I are both interested! We both read and enjoyed “The Bone Witch,” and I’m so excited to get to this book! The first one didn’t exactly end on a cliff hanger, but there is still a significant jump in time between the main narrative of Tea’s life as an Asha, and her older self’s reflections and actions. What happened between these periods of time?!? I have to know! The author has also found the magical equation where I both dread and look forward to events to come, knowing the outcomes, at least to some extent. The world-building and magical system are intricate and intriguing, and Tea pretty much has a pet dragon, so that’s pretty awesome.

Kate’s Picks

35533431Book: “The Broken Girls” by Simone St. James

Publication Date: March 20, 2018

Why I’m Interested: I am a huge fan of Gothic fiction, and I am always excited to see new tellings of this genre that have been updated for a more modern time. “The Broken Girls” has narratives that take place in and around an old school in the middle of the Eastern U.S. countryside. This is the place that parents would send their daughters that they didn’t want to deal with, and since they’re seen as ‘broken’ no one really cared when one went missing. But when a body is found in a well on the property, a modern day reporter (still haunted by her older sister’s murder years earlier) becomes invested in the outcome. It sounds haunting and timely given the way abuse and harassment towards women has been in the news.

35857495Book: “Bring Me Back” by B.A. Paris

Publication Date: March 8, 2018

Why I’m Interested: While “The Breakdown” was a bit of a slog at first, it completely changed the game in the last fourth, and blew me away. Then and there I knew that I was going to assuredly read anything else that B.A. Paris came out with next. This one involves a husband who leaves his wife in the car while he goes to get gas on a French vacation, and when he comes back she’s gone, never to be seen again. A few years later, he and his new wife (who is his former sister in law) find an object that may be connected to the woman they both loved. This just sounds creepy and paranoia inducing, and I am definitely expecting it be totally knocked off my feet by this in the end. At least I’m hoping to be.

34728667Book: “Children of Blood and Bone” by Tomi Adeymi

Publication Date: March 6, 2018

Why I’m Interested: Not only does this sound like it’s going to be some mythology based fantasy with dark themes, it’s also a diverse title in a genre that has a serious need of more diversity!! I do admit that this could have the potential for teetering a bit too towards high fantasy for me, but I am totally willing to give it a go because it sounds action packed and unique in a lot of ways. And plus it sounds like there’s some business about reaping souls, and oh goodness gracious is that right up my alley. I also saw an excellent video of Adeymi unwrapping her first copy of this book, and her pure unadulturated joy made me all the more excited to read this book.