Happy Birthday Batman!: Essential Batman Reading For His Birthday

On March 30th, 1939, “Detective Comics” introduced the world to Batman, the Caped Crusader known for fighting petting criminals and mental patients so that Gotham City would be a safer place! We kid, we kid (kinda). We’re both Batman fans here (though Serena is decidedly #TeamSupes when it comes down to it). Since it’s the brooding billionaire’s birthday this year, here are some essential takes on Batman through the decades. Happy 80th, Batman!

19030845Book/Arc: “The Dark Knight Returns” by Frank Miller

The 1980s was a serious shift for comics, with titles taking on darker and more existential story lines. One of those seminal comics series was Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns”, which brings a middle aged Bruce Wayne to it’s pages. Gotham is being overrun by a gang called The Mutants, and Bruce Wayne decides that it’s time to bring Batman back to try and get some justice. But age and time has taken it’s toll, and Bruce isn’t certain he can do this alone. Especially when old foes start to come out of the woodwork, and have decided to take this moment to wreak as much havoc as possible. But it’s when Superman is enlisted to fight back against Batman as ordered by the Government that things take a real turn for the dramatic. Miller’s story is a favorite with many fans, and it brings darkness that hadn’t really been seen with Batman up until this point. While it isn’t one of Kate’s favorites, it’s hard to deny the impact that this story had for Batman in the years to come.

96358Book/Arc: “The Killing Joke” by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland (Ill.)

A controversial title to say the very least, Alan Moore wrote this essential, dark as night one shot story that changed the course of a few of the Batman characters in significant ways. The Joker is up to his old tricks, and this time he decides to hit Batman where it really hurts: by hurting his friends. Yep, this is the story where Barbara Gordon is shot in the spine and then, potentially, sexually assaulted. It is absolutely a rough read (and so on brand for Moore, who is one of Kate’s problematic faves in the comics biz), but it did so much for Batman stories from then on out that it has to be included. It gave Joker his most accepted back story that influenced Tim Burton’s “Batman”. It gave us Oracle, the superhero Barbara turned into after she was paralyzed, who became arguably the most powerful of the Bat Family because of her hacking and information skills. “The Killing Joke” has its detractors, and rightfully so. But its influence is indisputable.

106069Book/Arc: “The Long Halloween” by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale (Ill.)

While many people think of the deranged super villains that Batman fights, sometimes we forget that he also has helped take down organized crime syndicates in Gotham. The Falcone and Maroni Families takes a prominent role in “The Long Halloween”, a collection where Batman has to try to stop a mob war all while trying to figure out who is killing people on each holiday of the year. Not only do the crime families and their intricacies get a big slice of the plot pie, this is also the collection that give Harvey Dent his most complex and accepted back story as he goes from idealistic district attorney to crazed criminal. It should also be noted that this is a story arc that gives Bruce and his lady love Selina “Catwoman” Kyle a fairly functional relationship! Well, as functional as the two star crossed lovers can be, anyway. And keep an eye out for a whole slew of enemies like Poison Ivy, Scarecrow, and, of course, The Joker.

51078Book/Arc: “Knightfall” by Chuck Dixon, Jo Duffy, Alan Grant, Dennis O’Neil, and Doug Moench

Bane gets no respect when it comes to his movie counterparts. In “Batman and Robin” he was a weird street punk turned feral roided out monster, and in “The Dark Knight Rises” he is relegated to a crony role to Talia Al Ghul of all people! Is that any way to treat The Man Who Broke The Bat? “Knightfall” is the story line that introduced Bane as the first adversary who could not only intimidate Batman, but to put him out of commission when he broke his back on his knee (which “The Dark Knight Rises”, admittedly, adapted properly). Bane is a super genius as well as being suped up on Venom, a man who was born in a prison and had to serve the time his parents had racked up. He is a formidable foe to be sure, and to take down Batman and put him on the sidelines for an extended period of time? THAT is impressive.

107032Book/Arc: “A Death in the Family” by Jim Starlin and Marv Wolfman (Ill.)

We tend to think of Batman as someone who always comes out on top. But there was one time that when he failed, it was the worst failure he could have made. And that was when he couldn’t prevent the death of Jason Todd, aka Robin. Jason Todd was always a controversial figure in the comics; he was the second Robin, and a very different character from Dick Grayson, whose shoes were already VERY big to fill. The fans didn’t care for him, and when the creators gave the fans the chance to vote on whether he lived or died, he was given a resounding death sentence. Unfair? Perhaps. But it was one of the most powerful stories because Batman was bested when the stakes were at their highest. This storyline has been alluded to, if not directly addressed, in newer iterations of Batman mythos, and while they tried to replicate it with “Death of the Family” (and the death of Bruce’s son Damian), the initial power and gut punch of “A Death in the Family” will probably never be replicated.

39018271Book/Arc: “The Court of Owls” by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo (Ill.)

The New 52 was the expansive reboot series DC did in the 2010s, and The Court of Owls is arguably the best story line to come from this era of Batman comics. It’s a little more secretive and clandestine than other Batman villains. Usually the villain is apparent and in our face. But with the Court of Owls, very little is known about the Illuminati-esque secret society that may be pulling the strings in Gotham City. Even Batman goes in with very little information, and can’t rely on his vast (and sometimes SUPER convenient) knowledge when facing off with these foes. It’s nice to see Bats at a disadvantage every once in awhile, and The Court of Owls puts him at a vast one.

What Batman stories are your favorites? Let us know in the comments!

 

Highlights: April 2019

Ok. The days are getting longer. Easter is this month. Surely, surely spring is finally on its way! No, no, we DON’T want to talk about the blizzard that struck last April. And frankly, “April showers” even sounds fine by us. As long as the precipitation is in liquid form! As we patiently continue to wait for the return of the warm weather, here are some books we are looking forward to this month!

Serena’s Picks

39735900Book: “Through the White Wood” by Jessica Leake

Publication Date: April 9, 2019

Why I’m Interested: For one, look at that beautiful cover? You know I’m always a sucker for covers that don’t feature models, but this one in particular stands out with its deep blue tones and the striking white eagle. I’m pretty sure I requested this one based only on that cover. But the story itself also sounds intriguing featuring a young woman in Russia who has the ability to control ice. After tragedy strikes her village and she finds herself an outcast, she becomes caught up in a events taking place on a much grander scale where her abilities are not to be feared but instead could be the saving grace for her entire country.

39863306Book: “The Sword and the Dagger” by Robert Cochran

Publication Date: April 9, 2019

Why I’m Interested: Another intriguing cover, but I’ll admit to being drawn in mostly by the book description itself for this one. Set during the Crusades (in), an unlikely trio, a Christian princess, her fiance, and a Muslin assassin (definitely in), find themselves on a shared journey to intercept Gengis Khan (soooo in). That also all sounds completely bonkers, so I’m really curious to see where the story goes. Obviously, with the make-up of the group itself, I expect there will be a lot of conversations about faith, friendship, and loyalty, so I’m also intrigued to see how those aspects of the story play out. It seems like it could too much to tackle in one book (and of course I always have fears of love triangles with things like this), but I’ll remain optimistic.

40618519Book: “The Unbound Empire” by Melissa Caruso

Publication Date: April 25, 2019

Why I’m Interested: I’ve loved the first two books in the “Swords and Fire” trilogy, so it’s no wonder that this, the final book in the series would make its way on this list. One of the things that has impressed me most about this developing trilogy is how the stakes have risen with each book. That being the case, I’m so excited to see where this finale will take us! The groundwork for a huge conflict has been laid out, with Amalia and the fire warlock Zaira at its heart. But there are also political ramifications for society as a whole that have been building up: how will the lives of the bound Falcons look going forward? I’m also curious to see where Caruso will take the romances in this book. The second book pretty much did the impossible by introducing a love triangle that I didn’t immediately hate. But sticking the landing is everything for something like this, so we’ll just have to wait and see!

Kate’s Picks

40776737Book: “Alien: Echo” by Mira Grant

Publication Date: April 9, 2019

Why I’m Interested: It’s true that Sci-Fi isn’t really my bag, but I am a big fan of Mira Grant and pretty much everything that I have read by her. So I am more than willing to give “Alien: Echo” a try! When twin sisters Olivia and Viola move to a new planet colony with their xenobiologist parents, they expect it to be like other missions their parents have participated in. But when a new threat is found in the form of a new alien, and chaos suddenly takes hold, Olivia has to use her own knowledge of xenobiology to keep Viola and herself safe. Grant is always so creative with her world building, so I’m very excited and hopeful that “Alien: Colony” will be another fun ride from her.

41806986Book: “Little Darlings” by Melanie Golding

Publication Date: April 30, 2019

Why I’m Interested: I’m a big ol’ sucker for a changeling story, so I of COURSE am very intrigued by the premise of “Little Darlings”. Lauren Tranter is the new mom of twins Morgan and Riley, and while she loves her babies she’s been worrying about them since their birth. While at the hospital she thinks she saw a woman try to take her children and replace them with two different beings, and while everyone thinks she imagined it, she’s been on alert. So when the twins disappear for a bit while she takes them to the park, her worst fears may be coming true. The twins, however, are recovered, but when they are returned to Lauren, she sees two babies that are not her children, even though everyone else thinks everything is fine. It sounds upsetting and creepy, and I can’t wait to see how it messes with my head.

40065317Book: “The Invited” by Jennifer McMahon

Publication Date: April 30, 2019

Why I’m Interested: Jennifer McMahon has been pretty hit or miss for me in the past, but when she’s on she is ON. Because of this, I am absolutely going to see what she can do with a haunted house story like “The Invited”. Married couple Helen and Nate have left the city life in hopes of building a new life and house in the countryside. The property has a tragic past, in which a woman named Hattie died on the land a century prior. As Helen starts designing the house and it starts to go up, the tragic history of Hattie and her descendants starts to be uprooted in more ways than one. A haunted house you move into is one thing, but it’s a pretty fascinating idea to be building a house that appears destined to be haunted.

What April new releases are you looking forward to? Share in the comments below!

St. Patrick’s Day/Irish Themed Books!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! The day everyone wears green and likes to claim some loose, loose connection to Ireland to justify a night out on the town. We here at The Library Ladies like to use any/all holidays for a completely different purpose: as a loose, loose excuse to create random, themed booklists. So here are a few books that have some (remember “loose”) connection to Ireland or St. Patrick’s Day!

13928Book: “Daughter of the Forest” by Juliet Marillier

Publishing Info: Tom Doherty Associates, February 2002

Juliet Marillier is one of my (Serena’s) favorite authors. Her writing flows off the page in a beautiful, lyrical style, often combined with a fairytale-like feel. She often has a whole host of books that are set in a historical, fantasy-based version of Ireland. I could make an entire list on this theme all written by her. But my favorite of her works is still her first story, “Daughter of the Forest” that is a re-telling of the “Seven Swans” fairytale. I consider it the definitive version of this fairytale, even, that’s how good it is. Throughout the story, we see how important Sorcha’s homeland is to her identity and the beautiful descriptions of its deep forests and quiet lakes is simply one more reason to check out this fantastic tale.

249747Book: “Artemis Fowl” by Eoin Colfer

Publishing Info: Disney-Hyperion, April 2003

Just in time for the growing hype about the movie version of this beloved middle grade book, “Artemis Fowl” is also a perfect fit for this list given the location of Fowl Manor on the outskirts of Dublin. Not to mention the host of fairies who live below ground and work for the LEPrecon Unit. Artemis Fowl himself is a 12-year old genius who gets on the wrong side of said fairies when he takes one of them hostage in a ploy to regain his family’s lost wealth. He’s the kind of precocious protagonist who manages to be both frustrating and root-for-worthy at the same time. If you somehow missed this one, best check it out now before the movie hits screens! There are also a bunch more in the series, so you could potentially have quite a reading list on your hands.

300932Book: “Lion of Ireland” by Morgan Llywelyn

Publishing Info: Forge, March 2002

This is a historical fiction novel that attempts to novelize the story of Brian Boru, a 12th son who grew up to be one of the greatest king’s of Ireland. In many ways, his is also thought to be a story that lay behind the legend of King Arthur. Set in the 19th century and drawing from the scant information that is known about the man himself, Llywelyn attempts to novelize the life Brian, documenting his rise to power and his ability to gain the loyalty and love of a people. The story is long, but full of action and romance. Readers in the mood for a historical story that is at least partially based on a real-life person, look no further than “Lion of Ireland.”

873783Book: “The Hounds of The Morrigan” by Pat O’Shea

Publishing Info: Oxford University Press, 1985

When you take two siblings, a Goddess of Death, and some hell hounds with a tenacious streak, you get the fantasy book “The Hounds of The Morrigan”. This YA adventure is set in Galway, and takes Irish and Celtic mythology and brings it to the 1980s. When ten year old Pidge finds an old manuscript, he unwittingly releases the vicious serpent Olc-Glas. Now that Olc-Glas is free, he gains the attention of The Morrigan, the Irish goddess of death and destruction, and she wants to join forces with the snake to cause mass chaos. Pidge and his sister Brigit are the only ones who can find a magic stone that can destroy Olc-Glas and hopefully save the world, but The Morrigan has sent her Hell Hounds to hunt the siblings down. Taking classic mythology and giving it a 20th Century twist, “The Hounds of The Morrigan” is a fun adventure with an Irish twist!

7093952Book Series: “The Dublin Murder Squad Books” by Tana French (“In The Woods”, “The Likeness”, “Faithful Place”, “Broken Harbor”, “The Secret Place”, “The Trespasser”)

Publishing Info: Penguin Books, 2007-2016

Tana French is a name you probably know if you are a big mystery/crime procedural fan, and her most popular books are those in “The Dublin Murder Squad” Series. The first in the series, “In The Woods”, concerns a detective who suffered a childhood trauma that he hasn’t quite let go. When a new case involving a murdered girl happens in the same woods of his trauma, he has to try to keep his past at bay. The next book in the series follows another member of the Murder Squad, and the book after that follows another one, etcetera etcetera. The books have a devoted following, and the peripheral connections are fun to see within high tension and sometimes very upsetting mysteries.

15926229Book: “Making Sense of The Troubles: The Story of the Conflict in Northern Ireland” by David McKittrick and David McVea

Publishing Info: Penguin, October 2001

During the latter part of the 20th Century, Northern Ireland was caught in a struggle between those who wanted Northern Ireland to stay with the U.K. and those who wanted Northern Ireland to join The Republic of Ireland, and while it wasn’t technically religious in nature it tended to split along Protestant and Catholic lines. The conflicts had many instances of violence, with bombings, kidnappings, riots, and targeted violence coming from both sides. It’s a complex and dark time in Irish history, and “Making Sense of The Troubles” is considered to be a comprehensive and even handed account of the decades long conflict. It’s a dark book to finish the list with, but given how The Troubles are still in living memory, it’s an important read nonetheless.

Do you have any favorite stories set in Ireland? Share yours with us in the comments below!

Highlights: March 2019

Will spring ever arrive? This is the question on every Minnesotan’s mind as we stare out at our snow-covered lawns, our icicle-encrusted roofs and our thermometers that are still, somehow, showing single digits. But at least we can add an extra hour of light in the evenings soon? Literal light at the end of this cold, snowy tunnel?? As always, however, we have a list of books to look forward to to distract us!

Serena’s Picks

42506143Book: “The Shadowglass” by Rin Chupeco

Publication Date: March 5, 2019

Why I’m Interested: I’ve been loving “The Bone Witch” series from book one. Not only is the world-building and dark, death magic completely fascinating, but the narrative is structured in such a way that we have essentially two timelines to follow at once: Tea’s past self and her experiences growing into her Bone Witch powers and the adult Tea who has seen some shit. By the second book, each storyline was jam packed with its own action, and while some questions were being answered here and there, many of the primary mysteries behind how things ended up the way they were in adult!Tea’s timeline in the first book are still unclear. So not only do we need to catch up to that point in this book, but the present timeline was also getting pretty intense in the last book, so it’s hard to even imagine how that will conclude as well!

30518319Book: “A Dangerous Collaboration” by Deanna Raybourn

Publication Date: March 12, 2019

Why I’m Interested: I mean, obviously. I’ve been loving this series from the start and this was the first book that had a serious wait time attached to it given the timing of my discovery of the series. I’m also particularly intrigued by the Gothic, ghost-centric, missing bride angle at the heart of this mystery. I’m sensing some serious “Jane Eyre” vibes all over this thing, and that can only be a good sign! Beyond that, Veronica and Stoker’s relationship seems to be coming to a head, so I’m intrigued to see where the series goes with that! Will this actually be followed through on? Or will we get more of the same will-they-won’t-they we’ve seen for the last several books? I definitely have a preference!

38734256-1Book: “Sherwood” by Meagan Spooner

Publication Date: March 19, 2019

Why I’m Interested: A few years ago I read and adored Spooner’s retelling of my favorite fairytale, “Beauty and the Beast,” in her book “Hunted.” There were just enough callouts to the original story for it to feel familiar, but, for the most part, the story was completely new. Add to that a compelling, strong heroine at its heart and you had a hit on your hands! So when I saw that she was releasing another standalone story, this time a version of Robin Hood with Marian as the focus, I knew I would have to check it out! Like has so often (sadly) been the case with “Beauty and the Beast” stories, I’ve read a fair share of Robin Hood stories that cast Marian in a more important role (often the archer herself) and been left underwhelmed. However, given Spooner’s past success and the fact that the book description starts out with the provocative line “Robin of Locksley is dead”…yeah, I’m game to see where this one goes!

Kate’s Picks

34993030Book: “The Lady from the Black Lagoon: Hollywood Monsters and the Lost Legacy of Milicent Patrick” by Mallory O’Meara

Publication Date: March 5, 2019

Why I’m Interested: As the horror connoisseur on this blog it comes as no surprise that a book about the woman who designed The Creature from the Black Lagoon is something that has caught my attention. Milicent Patrick created the now iconic creature from the Universal Monsters line up, but the credit was stolen by a male colleague, and Patrick’s legacy was stolen from her. Mallory O’Meara, angered by this injustice, went out and found out everything she could about Patrick’s life, and has now written a biography of a woman whose contributions to the horror film industry has been long overlooked. While I’m sure the sexism and misogyny is going to make my blood boil, I can’t wait to learn about a lady horror fan whose impact within the genre was formidable.

38167114Book: “Internment” by Samira Ahmed

Publication Date: March 19, 2019

Why I’m Interested: With our Government and this current administration promoting racist and Islamaphobic policies, “Internment” feels like a timely, and very scary, warning of a novel. It’s the story of Layla, a seventeen year old Muslim American, and how she, her family, and Muslims across the country are rounded up by the Government and relocated to Internment camps, echoing America’s shameful and horrific past of Japanese American internment during WWII. While Layla’s parents hope that remaining silent and compliant will keep them safe, Layla has other ideas, and wants to fight back. Heavy stuff, but given that this ‘what if’ scenario feels all too plausible it’s probably also necessary to think about.

39080472Book: “The Everlasting Rose” by Dhonielle Clayton

Publication Date: March 5, 2019

Why I’m Interested: Given how much I greatly enjoyed “The Belles” last year, I OF COURSE have to put it’s sequel, “The Everlasting Rose”, on my list! When we left off, Rogue Belle Camille has run from her duty to Princess Sophia and has met up with her sister Belle Edel, in hopes of fighting back against Sophia’s oppressive regime. Camille and Edel have to team up to find Sophia’s sister Charlotte, the rightful heir to the Orléans Throne, and have to keep themselves safe and hidden along the way. We’ve entered the revolution part of this dystopian tale, and the stakes are quite high. Will Camille and Edel, along with the help of former guard Remy and an underground rebellion group, be able to save Orléans from tyranny?

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

Not Just Books: February 2019

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

mv5bntfhotk1ntgtywm1zs00nwi1ltgzyzatyme5mjzimde0nzlhxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymtkxnjuynq4040._v1_sy1000_cr006751000_al_Netflix Show: “The Umbrella Academy”

I think we can all relate to the ordeal that is picking a new show to watch. Especially when it is a joint watch between you and someone else. My husband and I mostly have the same tastes, but that doesn’t seem to make it much easier. After we mourned the last episode of “The Great British Bake Off,” we were in it again. Until, out of nowhere, by husband was like “hey, what about this show? I think it’s about super heroes?” And, like a dummy, had never even heard of it! And thus began a new happy reign of Netflix watching. I also haven’t read the comic that this was originally based upon, but one of my favorite things about this adaptation is that there are multiple points in every episode where I can clearly see a scene that had to have been pulled directly from the pages. It’s artsy without getting lost in its concept. Funny, heart-breaking, and still has us guessing as to where everything is leading! I can’t speak for how faithful it is to the original material, but whatever it is we’re getting here, I’m thoroughly enjoying it!

ea95b42f4d8029ac2510571cc8dbdae4

Video Game: “Red Dead Redemption II”

Again, after the loss of our beloved “Fallout 4,” my husband and I have struggled to really find a good replacement video game that can eat up months of our time. Neither of us really grew up with a lot of gaming, so it takes us both a bit to really get a feel for a new game and how to best play it. That being the case, we like to find the largest games we can that will help off-set our slow-learning. Bethesda games have been perfect for that reason. But we heard through the grapevine that “Red Dead Redemption II” was not only an excellent open world game (our favorite type) but also had an even larger map than “Fallout 4.” So, on a spur of the moment whim, we went out and nabbed this game last weekend. And…yeah, that’s been our life ever since. I think we could agree that while some of the complicated menuing systems leave something to be desired, and that it definitely took us even longer than usual to feel up to speed, now that we’re in it…this game is worth the time and effort. There’s just tons to do! And while my husband can be overly trigger happy (we waste half our money paying off bounties on our head, I feel), I spend most of my time bonding with our horse and figuring out how many horses we can have at one time. So we’re both happy!

a1vfjqg6pfl._sx466_Board Game: “Ticket to Ride”

Lest it be thought that I do nothing but read, and then watch TV or play video games, here is something new! I’ve owned this game for…forever. As evidenced by the state of the box itself. It’s literally taped together in places and the cards are…”worn” is a kind word for the state of them, I think. But for some reason, we just hadn’t played it for quite a while. Until we had house guests a few months ago and played like 8 games over the entire weekend. And then ever since, my husband and I have worked out a variation to make it 2-player and have played it several times again each week for the past month. I think we have all of the routes memorized at this point. Probably time to look for the European option!

Kate’s Picks

aaaabfhyy-qyfnzchi54kwp5j7c-j0mcgrq0epjn5rtq39gfldzsunofdfd9yod9krblb1f9jejzm1bz9updyqjanf97wezzzfjstvqunmb0kcyu96t5kx1tzk1dip8bwehigmcptc0gfqNetflix Show: “Russian Doll”

Part “Groundhog Day”, part time and space theory, “Russian Doll” is a dark comedy/thriller/science fiction puzzle that completely blew me away. I’ve loved Natasha Lyonne since I was in high school, and seeing her in a starring role with so much material to work with is a real joy. Lyonne plays Nadia, a woman who is a bit of an emotional train wreck, who dies when she’s hit by a car after her 36th birthday party. Then she wakes up at the party again…. Only to die again, only to wake up again. And again. And again. This show is a brain teaser with slick and interesting writing, fun characters, and a lot of mysteries, but it isn’t until episode three that a plot twist brings the show from good writing to GREAT writing. “Russian Doll” is addictive and fabulous.

c4db7c43ce9a74a206a336c13f124897ac676b296be98fc2a376bcc800dc4868a8f52b725b73ca55a50a19fccd1e7a5a6737488f02c09a207b59aa7032c2e07aPodcast: “Over My Dead Body”

While I’m usually content to re-listen to episodes of “My Favorite Murder” and “Last Podcast on the Left”, I’m always on the lookout for new podcasts of the true crime variety. Wondery Network has consistently put out deep dive and fascinating series, such as “Dirty John” and “Dr. Death”, and their newest series, “Over My Dead Body”, as captivated me as well. It’s the story of the marriage of Dan Merkel and Wendi Adelson, which ended with divorce, acrimony, and murder. I went in with very little knowledge of the case at it’s center, and I think that it’s good to go in blind because the reveals are meticulous and, quite frankly, nuts. Wondery has always been a great network for gripping and responsible podcasting, and now that I’m hooked on “Over My Dead Body” whenever a new episode drops I make it a priority to listen as soon as possible.

mv5bmtgyntqynjuwn15bml5banbnxkftztgwnjmwnjuznzm40._v1_Netflix Show: “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”

While I appreciate that “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” opted to end the show on a high note before it ran out of ideas/became too wacky to remain tenable, I was very sad to see it end. As it is, the outlandish characters and storylines hadn’t yet overstayed their welcome, so when my husband and I sat down to watch the final episodes we were pretty bummed out. But, in pure Kimmy fashion, the entire cast is able to give us a fine farewell, and to bring some bittersweet, and still hilarious, closure to a series that properly balanced darkness with light. While this show wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, the character growth and the biting satire were top notch. The final episodes feel a bit quick, but over all I was happy to see where all of my beloved characters, Kimmy and Titus especially, ended up.

A Fine Romance: Romantic Books for Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is around the corner, and along with candy and flowers comes some lovey dovey feelings. While we here at the Library Ladies aren’t exactly hopeless romantics, we do love a good book with a focus on love. In honor of the holiday, we have some recommendations of love oriented books to check out.

98687Book: “Call Me By Your Name” by André Aciman

Publishing Info: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2007

The film adaptation of this book made a huge splash when it came out in 2017, and I took it upon myself to read the book afterwards because the story had such an impact on me. Set in the Italian countryside in the early 1980s, “Call Me By Your Name” concerns the love, passion, and heartbreak between Elio, the son of a professor, and Oliver, a graduate student on an archaeological project. The chemistry between Elio and Oliver is crackling, and it tackles the ups and downs of first love for a younger person, and the fears of coming out for an older one. Given the time period, the age difference, and the personalities of the two main characters you can see where things are going, but even as they end up at their logical conclusion the reader is still taken in by the sweeping romance and tenderness between Elio and Oliver. Read it but be sure you have a box of tissues to cry into when all is said and done.

7716140Book: “Married with Zombies” by Jesse Petersen

Publishing Info: Orbit, 2010

Unconventional romance can be fun as well, and what could be more unconventional than a married couple finding themselves again during the zombie invasion? Sarah and David are a married couple who are having relationship problems. Sarah thinks that they may be on the brink of divorce, and David doesn’t seem to care. But then the zombie apocalypse happens, and the two of them realize that they won’t be able to survive without helping each other. And as they try to make their way through the wasteland in hopes of finding safety, they start to remember why they fell in love with each other in the first place. “Married with Zombies” is the first in a campy and fun series that explores love and romance in an honest way when it comes to a marriage on the rocks, and brings in charming characters and fun zombie action.

36521316Book: “The Shape of Water” by Guillermo del Toro and Daniel Krauss

Publishing Info: Feiwel & Friends, 2018

Guillermo del Toro’s “The Shape of Water” was the Best Picture at the 2018 Oscars, and while a number of people like to make fun of it (‘the Fish Fucking Movie won?!’), at the heart of it is a truly sweet and sweeping romance between two outsiders who are looking for companionship. Elisa is a mute woman working as a night cleaner at a scientific laboratory, and while she has friends she feels isolated because of her disability. But when she stumbles upon a secret project, which involves the captivity of a hidden creature taken from the Amazon River, she forms an immediate connection. The book is an adaptation of the film, but in written form it gives more in depth perspectives of a number of the characters, and approaches the romance from other angles. Fans of the movie will like the additional content, and those who haven’t seen it will probably want to after reading it.

33413958Book: “Your One and Only” by Adrianne Finlay

Publishing Info: HMH Books for Young Readers, 2018

For a science fiction angle, we recommend this YA title featuring a future populated entirely by well-regulated clone generations. Their orderly lifestyle and strict cloning process is thrown into chaos, however, by the introduction of Jack, the first non-clone boy to exist in this world for decades. Being the new kid at school takes on a whole new light from this angle, but luckily he forms a connection with Althea-310 who sees his struggles and becomes curious about this new form of life and what he may have to teach them. Their romance is sweet, while also leaving plenty of room for a deep-dive exploration into a dystopian society and what it means to be human.

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

Publishing Info: Thomas Dunne Books, 2017

Technically this is a historical fantasy, but I feel it fits much more neatly under the “historical romance” category as the fantasy elements only exist on the far outreaches of the story itself. And that story is first and foremost a romance. Told from three perspectives, we see the pains of old romance slowly give way to the joys of new love. Antonina, Hector, and Valerie each have distinct voices and challenges, and what made the book particularly enjoyable was not only being able to root so strongly for our main duo, but having a villain, who while sympathetic to a point, was also great fun to hate. Fans of historical romance are sure to appreciate this one!

24473763Book: “Radiance” by Grace Draven

Publishing Info: Grace Draven, 2015

This one solidly falls under the romance category, being similar to “The Shape of Water” in its presentation of a non-typical romantic duo. Brought together through a politically arranged marriage, Brishen and Ildiko have much to learn about not only the stranger they married, but the very different worlds and cultures they each have come from. But what makes this book stand out from others is the truly sweet and respectful way that this romance unfolds. It just goes to show that angst, drama, miscommunication, and general “bad boy” behavior is not necessary to make a romance spark. Both of our main characters are simply wonderful people and it makes their love story all the more enjoyable for it!

Highlights: February 2019

After getting slammed by a sub zero nightmare last week, it is now February and we are hoping that temperatures are more reasonable from here on out (aka: above zero). We may be in the middle of winter, but with February comes an air of romance and LOTS of candy, as well as a new crop of books coming out! Here are some titles we’re looking forward to this month.

Serena’s Picks

32949202Book: “Dark of the West” by Joanna Hathaway

Publication Date: February 5, 2019

Why I’m Interested: This debut YA fantasy novel’s description reads more like a historical political piece than anything else, and at this point, I think that’s probably a good thing! I love me some fantasy, but it might be refreshing to find a “Game of Thrones” esque YA work where the emphasis is more on the politics and military maneuvering than anything else. I’m also intrigued by the time period during which it seems to be set as there is mention of airplanes and other WWII era inventions. Add a dash of forbidden romance between teens in rival nations, and I’m there!

35715518Book: “Crown of Feathers” by Nicki Pau Preto

Publication Date: February 12, 2019

Why I’m Interested: Yes, yes, I just got done saying how nice it will be to read a fantasy novel that has less fantasy, and now here I am highlighting a book with phoenixes at the heart of the story. What can I say? But what really did make this book stand out for me was essentially the swap out of dragons for phoenixes, something I’ve never come across before. I’m curious to see what other elements of the phoenix mythology will come into play or whether much of it will remain similar to other dragon-rider type stories. It also includes a diverse cast of characters, and, again, another war torn country with rebellion at its heart. I’m sensing a theme for the month…

34213319Book: “Four Dead Queens” by Astrid Scholte

Publication Date: February 26, 2019

Why I’m Interested: And we’ve gone full circle and we’re back to the tried and true medieval fantasy story that I find myself reading all the time! But this time there are four, count them, four queens and they all end up…dead? I’m also a sucker for any story that features a pickpocket thief at its heart, and of course, that’s our YA heroine for this story. There does also seem to be some political elements at the heart of the story, so I’m curious to see how that will play out. And, of course, there’s a romance too. That’s always seems to be my tripping point with books like this, so we’ll have to see how that goes!

Kate’s Picks

39863488Book: “The Lost Man” by Jane Harper

Publication Date: February 5, 2019

Why I’m Interested: I have found myself invested in Jane Harper’s “Aaron Falk” mystery series and the fun Australian setting, so when I found out that Harper had written a new standalone thriller, I knew that I wanted to read it as soon as I could. When a dysfunctional family is rocked by the death of a middle brother, family secrets and complicated relationships start to unravel. For Nathan Bright, he starts to wonder if he knew everything about his dead brother, and if his death wasn’t as open and shut as it initially appeared to be. Harper writes dark characters and vast and sprawling Australian settings like few others, and I am very excited to dive into this newest story.

37868569Book: “We Set The Dark On Fire” by Tehlor Kay Mejia

Publication Date: February 26, 2019

Why I’m Interested: We have another non sword and sorcery fantasy series with dystopia/utopia themes and a boarding school location, so you know that I am going to be on board. In an elite school where girls are trained to become powerful wives to powerful men or doting mothers to important children, Dani is on track to live a life of luxury. But she’s hiding the fact that she isn’t from the illustrious background that she claims to be. If she is found out she could be sent back to a life of poverty and hardship. But there is also a resistance growing, and Dani approached to work for them in hopes of bringing equality to their society. It sounds like the kind of fantasy that I like, and I can’t wait to see how it stacks up.

35068618Book: “On The Come Up” by Angie Thomas

Publication Date: February 5, 2019

Why I’m Interested: I was so completely entranced by Thomas’s debut “The Hate U Give” (as was the rest of the world, and deservedly so!) that once I heard that she was writing another book I needed, NEEDED to get on the request list at work. I was lucky enough to request early enough that I will be in the first wave of requests, and let me tell you I can’t wait. Her newest book is about Bri, an aspiring rapper who is hoping to become famous one day. After he father, a rapper with a cult following, died when Bri was young, it’s been her, her mother, and her brother ever since. And when her mother loses her job and they start to slide into debt, Bri is more determine than ever to achieve her dream and make it big. It may not be in my usual genres, but “On the Come Up” is still one of my most anticipated reads of the year.