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An avid reader since the age of three, Heather proudly displays an "ENGMJR" license plate and Sparky the Sun Devil sticker on her car as some proof she graduated from Arizona State University with her B.A. in Literature. When she isn't reading or scouring used bookstores for vintage etiquette books, Heather can often be found watching hockey or baseball, or jotting in one of her many notebooks. A self-proclaimed book addict who will read just about anything (though young adult, literary fiction and memoirs are her favorites), Heather usually carries no less than two books on her person, just in case. Come find her at Changing Hands Phoenix, and she will gladly chat with you about all things book related.
I love stories about ordinary, relatable people, so I very quickly fell for with Me Before You protagonist Louisa Clark. She's the kind of character that's easily liked, but also flawed enough that you aren't cursing this perfect character who has the perfect life. On the contrary, Lou's life is far from perfect, which leads her to take the job as caretaker to paraplegic Will Traynor, who, up until his accident did have a seemingly perfect life. Me Before You is a fascinating study of relationships, family, and what happens when life doesn't go as planned, and I'd highly recommend it to anyone looking for a simple but meaningful story.
I grew up in a time where you could hardly go anywhere without hearing Jewel on the radio (don't lie--you also belted out "You Were Made For Me" while you were alone in the car). If you were of that same era, you may likely have heard Jewel's rags to riches story of a young homeless girl from Alaska living out of her car becoming a sensation overnight. When one reads Never Broken, however, it becomes very clear that Jewel's story wasn't as simple as that. Spanning her personal pitfalls and triumphs, Never Broken is an introspective, honest, and very personal look at a musician's life both on the road and off.
On a particularly bad day, I picked up Penguins with People Problems, hoping for a laugh. It did not disappoint. Fair warning, this book may not only cause you to laugh, it may induce some very ungraceful snorting laughter, as it did with yours truly. My personal favorite penguins were Dwayne (who is a genius), and Leonora (twirly chairs are twirly for a reason, despite what your boss may say), but no matter what your own "people problems" might be, you're sure to find a penguin or two that you can relate to.
Some argue that puns are the lowest form of humor. I respectfully disagree. Frida Clements has compiled some fantastic puns (the title of this book included), illustrated by her whimsical drawings. I was thoroughly amused by this book and was showing my favorites to anyone I could find. Give this to the pun lover in your life, or add it to your collection.
Chris Colfer is back with the fourth book in his bestselling Land of Stories series. In Beyond the Kingdoms, Alex and Conner Bailey are stepping out of the fairy tale world and chasing the evil Masked Man through classic literature. Along the way, they meet famed characters such as Robin Hood (who has a smidgeon of a yelling problem), Merlin (who may have a crush on Mother Goose), and many more. This book will keep you on the edge of your seat with its twists and turns and the ending has me eagerly awaiting book five.
This book had everything going against it for me. Not only do I tend to shy away from science fiction, I usually refuse to read books that are already popular. I hopped on this train, however, and I was not disappointed. The Martian is a survival story at its finest. Mark Watney is a sarcastic, sometimes rude protagonist, but his sheer determination to make it off of Mars will have you rooting for him all the way to the end. Funny at times and frustrating at others, this book is perfect for both reluctant science fiction readers and aficionados of the genre.
This novel is beyond beautiful. Though expansive, I never felt as if a word was out of place or that any part should be cut from Chad Harbach's prose. If you read the summary on the back of the book, you may be led to believe this novel is dominated solely by baseball. That is far from true. While baseball is prevalent, ultimately this novel is about the bonds that humans form and break with each other, and how life can often throw you that proverbial curveball when you're least expecting it. This novel struck a chord with me, and perhaps it will with you as well.
If you thought princesses couldn't wear black and fight monsters, think again! Princess Magnolia may look like your typical princess, but when trouble arises, she becomes the Princess in Black and takes on the monsters that are threatening to eat her kingdom's goats. But can she keep her secret from the nosy Duchess Wigtower? For boys and girls alike, Princess in Black is a fun, energetic story that made me want to go out and kick some monster tail of my own! Whimsically illustrated, I'd highly recommend this for ages 5 to 95.
This is one of those books that appears ordinary on the surface, but its heart and soul make it much more than that. Told through three alternating points of view, Fans of the Impossible Life is a moving and beautiful story of three friends, each going through their own challenges. Kate Scelsa's prose is lyrical and the way she manages to encapsulate a microcosm of human experience within the pages of this novel is brilliant. This is a debut not to miss!
In Chuck Palahniuk's first true short story collection, he treats readers to stories that blend the humorous and macabre. "Stories You Can't Unread" is a fitting subtitle, as I found myself mentally plagued for weeks after reading this collection (the story entitled "The Frog Prince" is the main culprit). For those potentially scared off by some of Palahniuk's more recent eccentric and experimental works, this collection is him getting back to his roots. "Expedition" is a prequel to the famed Fight Club and gives readers a look into a never before seen side of Tyler Durden, while "Zombies" explores the latest craze of gifted students shocking their brains with heart defibrillators. To make a long story short, if you've ever called yourself a Palahniuk fan, you need Make Something Up on your shelf.
What happens when you're allergic to everything in the outside world? Maddy has been diagnosed with Severe Combined Immunodeficiency, or SCID, and is unable to leave her airtight house at the risk of becoming ill. This book is super creative, telling Maddy's story through illustrations (done by Nicola's husband, David), diary entries, e-mails, and exposition, among other mediums. For fans of Eleanor and Park, Everything, Everything is a sweet story about how one person can help you think differently and challenge you to take risks you might have thought you'd never take.
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Have you ever hidden your feelings away for someone you thought you couldn't have? Come on down, Honor Girl is the graphic novel for you. Have you ever experienced a first love or first heartbreak? Read this graphic novel. Are you still dragging your heels when it comes to reading this? Perhaps you've been to summer camp and/or have been through some horridly awkward happenings. Seriously, no matter what your story is, you'll be able to appreciate Maggie Thrash's honest look back at her teenage experiences. At the very least, you can enjoy her humor, wit, and wonderful drawing style. Maggie Thrash is one to watch!
I read this in preparation for a venture to see the play on Broadway and man, am I glad I did. Hedwig is over the top, funny, and quite possibly the baddest b*tch you will ever meet, if the opening lines are anything to go by. This particular edition is drawn straight from one of Neil Patrick Harris' performances during his stint as the German genderqueer rock star, and by the time I finished reading through it, I was ready to tear off my own (metaphorical) wig and bust out into song. I may be a little late to the party, but I now know I will be calling myself a Hedhead for life.
It's hard for me to do justice to how exquisite of a book More Happy Than Not is, other than to say if I had the power to give a copy to everyone in the world, I would do so. Hailed as a young adult version of Eternal Sunshine for the Spotless Mind, this is one of those stories that reaches into your chest, squeezes your heart none too gently and doesn't let go, even after you have finished reading it. Adam Silvera has a way with words and storytelling that is second to none and honestly, this is one of the most original books, YA or otherwise, that I've read in a long time. The last line of this book reads: "Don't forget me." I know I sure won't.
What do you go through when you have the mind and soul of a girl, but the physical body of a boy? In George, we meet a girl going through that very struggle. This is such an important book because it's one that can help bridge the gap when it comes to the conversation of both transgender and gender identity issues. Additionally, it's a great book for kids who may be going through a similar experience to George, and could potentially help them feel like they are not alone in the world. To put it simply, this book gives me hope for the future, and anyone, no matter where they may fall on the gender spectrum will be able to root for George!
It's very hard for me to believe that Conviction is Kelly Loy Gilbert's first novel, simply because it is so gorgeously written. The language was easy to get lost in, and helped to weave a story about familial relationships, loyalty, and faith. Braden Raynor's conviction in God is tested while his father is facing jail time after an accident that leaves a police officer dead. The subsequent trial serves as a backdrop for Gilbert's characters to stand out against. In the wake of this trial, the characters are shown to be complex, flawed, and ultimately human. It's clear by the way that she writes that Gilbert has a phenomenal understanding of people and the way they behave; these are the kinds of characters that will stay in your memory long after you've finished this novel.
Mr. Panda has plenty of doughnuts to give out (he doesn't even like them!). If only the other animals around him could remember their manners. Filled with simple, yet wonderful illustrations, Please, Mr. Panda is a great picture book for teaching kids about the ways of please and thank you. Read to find out which animal finally is polite enough to earn a doughnut (or several) when Mr. Panda approaches them.
I'm one of those people that has a fascination with The Jazz Age (The Great Gatsby continues to be the only assigned reading from high school that I actually enjoyed), so when I was pointed in the direction of this book, I was immediately enamored with the stunning pictures throughout. The models' elegance shone on each different page and almost seemed to radiate from the book as I flipped through it. This is a great collection for anyone that is perhaps in the mood for a little nostalgia or someone that can appreciate a wonderfully composed photography book.
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Are you looking for the perfect way to get your youngster introduced to the realm of Star Wars? Look no further than Star Wars Epic Yarns. Jack and Holman Wang have managed to encapsulate the saga into thirty words over three books, starting with A New Hope. The figures and sets are entirely crafted by Jack and Holman themselves and have exceptional detail. There's even a local connection; the cover for A New Hope was photographed right here in Arizona in the Tucson desert. Check out the entire series!
Talk about a creative concept! When Suzie and Jon have sex, time literally stands still. After Jon finds out that the library Suzie works at is in danger of closing, the new couple hatches a plan to rob banks using their unique ability. More than the title implies, Criminals touches on the triumphs and anxieties of starting a new relationship, and anyone who has played the dating game will be able to relate. On top of a creative story line, Fraction and Zdarsky's quips and dialogue had me laughing throughout. After I finished this volume, I immediately bought the second. I would highly, highly recommend this comic for anyone who's looking for something that is perhaps not so conventional, but still very human at its core.
For me, My Heart and Other Black Holes is one of those books that almost defies words. It's a book that I wished existed when I was in high school so I knew that I wasn't alone. All the same, Aysel's story line resounded with me so strongly and so deeply even as an adult. Hers and my circumstances may not be exactly the same, but speaking from experience, My Heart and Other Black Holes is a book that is so important in the steps to erasing the stigmas that can often be associated with depression. If you or anyone you know is coping with the effects of depression, read this book. Perhaps it will help you feel that you, too, are not alone.
Welcome to Hotel Ruby, where Stephen King's The Shining meets The Eagles' "Hotel California." Local author Suzanne Young has taken horror elements and adapted them wonderfully for the teen crowd. If you're like me, the mysteries of Hotel Ruby will suck you in and grab your curiosity from the beginning. The prose is genuinely scary at certain points and Young fleshes out the setting so well, you'll think you're actually there with the cast of characters at this creepy hotel.
As soon as my coworkers showed me this book, I was immediately in love. Cats and yarn crafts, how could anyone go wrong? With 30 adorable projects (be sure to check out the Punk Mohawk and Shark Attack hats) in varying skill levels for knitters and crocheters alike, this book is sure to please the cat loving crafter in your life. If nothing else, the adorable pictures of the cats modeling these yarn creations are sure to make you go "aww."
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To put it not so lightly, Grasshopper Jungle is weird. I don't mean a bad sort of weird, however. I mean the kind of weird that pulls you in and intrigues you so much that you just have to keep reading to find out what happens next. Told from the point of view of Austin Szerba, a teenager growing up in a small town in rural Iowa that's been invaded by, you guessed it, giant grasshoppers, Grasshopper Jungle is a gem of a novel. What made this book so great for me aside from its delightful weirdness was its exploration of sexuality, and how open the main character was throughout. Well deserving of the nomination it received for the 2015 Printz Award, Grasshopper Jungle is one of those books that will leave an imprint in your mind and have you thinking about it long after the last page.
Ever wanted to try your hand at knitting but thought it was too complicated? This is the kit for you. I had been attempting on and off to try and knit for quite a long period of time but could never quite get the hang of it until I picked up this book. It includes all items you need to get started and covers the basics of knitting so you can immediately get to crafting. The diagrams that are provided inside are clear and easy to follow, making this craft a little less daunting. Beginning knitters of any age will appreciate the simple, but fun patterns included. Don't be intimidated any longer; check out this book and get to knitting!