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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 Tempe, and she will gladly chat with you about all things book related.
Love Letters to the Dead was one of those books that I just couldn't put down. I read it in a matter of hours, and was overcome with such a wave of emotion at the end of it that I simply had to close my eyes and take a breath. Laurel is given an English assignment at the beginning of the school year to write a letter to a dead person. Her first letter is to Kurt Cobain, Laurel's recently deceased sister's favorite musician. The book continues with a series of letters to historical figures like Amelia Earhart and John Keats, along with more contemporary figures like River Phoenix, Amy Winehouse, and Janis Joplin. One of the more powerful books I've read lately, Love Letters to the Dead is a book that I would highly recommend it to fans looking for something similar to Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why.
A few nights while on break at work, I read this over at First Draft, and some of the double takes I got were enough to make me snicker (which may have looked suspect, given the title of the book). This book also prompted the question "what are you reading?" from a customer when I was leaving the store with the book under my arm. Don't just read Perv for the hilarious, inevitable double takes and questions you'll get when reading out in public, however. Read it because of the things you'll learn that you might never have otherwise. Bering gives us a great, cerebral look at all things that make us "deviants," and the psychology behind the way our culture has come to shame certain sexual behaviors. Just what makes a "perv?" Read this book and find out. The answer may surprise you.
If you look at the author headshot, you might recognize Chris Colfer as "that one kid from Glee." Don't let that stop you from picking up this book, however. I'm usually one of those people that is hesitant to read books written by famous actors, but since I have been following Colfer throughout his career, I decided to overlook my usual reluctance. I am so glad I did. In this first installment of Colfer's series, we meet Alex and Conner Bailey, twins who have been transported into The Land of Stories, thanks to a magical storybook of fairy tales given to them by their grandmother. While Colfer uses the bones of well known fairy tales, he manages to give these stories a completely new and creative spin. Goldilocks is an outlaw on the run, Little Red Riding Hood has become completely self-absorbed while her grandmother runs her kingdom, and Jack (of beanstalk fame) is a recluse in love with a woman he may not ever be able to be with. In addition to the many fairy tales that Colfer has highlighted and reimagined, The Wishing Spell is laced with humor that will have both kids and adults laughing out loud, making it a book that everyone can enjoy!
In an ever changing world, Beautiful Music for Ugly Children is one of those books that is so important to read. Kirstin Cronn-Mills tells the story of Gabe, a transgender teen who has recently revealed his "B-side" to the world. While that is an important focus of the novel, this book can also be considered a love letter to music and the way it makes an impact within our lives. Gabe and his mentor, John share a love of music that I could feel with each page of this book. Well deserving of the 2013 Stonewall Book Award that it received, Beautiful Music for Ugly Children is (and pardon my pun here) a beautiful read that should be on everyone's "to read" list.
The Opposite of Loneliness is a posthumously published collection of fiction and non-fiction from young writer Marina Keegan. After her tragic death in a car accident just days after her graduation from Yale, Marina's family and friends compiled the works found in this book. There is wit and wisdom throughout all Marina's stories and essays, both fiction and non-fiction alike. The Opposite of Loneliness is a beautifully composed tribute to Marina and her writing alike, and it is truly a shame that the world will no longer see future works from this talented and gifted author.
Can't and Won't was my first foray into Lydia Davis' work, but I dare say after reading this book, I'll be seeking out more of her work in the future. Although classified as fiction, many of these stories read so honestly that you'll think you're reading a memoir. A lot of these pieces are less than a page long, some even less than a paragraph. Don't be fooled, however. Davis' flash fiction packs big punches with gorgeous, concise language, and the longer stories that are interwoven throughout the book are just as, if not more satisfying.
Nina LaCour's Everything Leads to You is a beautifully written story that centers around Emi, a recent high school graduate and budding set designer. She has been given a challenge by her brother to do something epic over the summer before she goes to college. Everything Leads to You paints a gorgeous picture of the film industry while interweaving both mystery and romance throughout. This was a book that I absolutely could not put down and would recommend it to anyone looking for a smart, fun, and engaging coming of age novel.
Ever since Crank, I have been hooked on Ellen Hopkins' style of writing. It is so unique and unlike a majority of authors out there. Using her free form style of poetry, Hopkins weaves stories that deal with a multitude of issues facing both teens and adults and her latest teen novel, Rumble, is arguably one of her best. Following the story of self-proclaimed atheist Matthew Turner, Rumble explores issues surrounding what it means to have faith, or in Matthew's case, a lack of faith and is a great story for anyone who can relate to searching for what it means to be themselves.
The striking cover of this book was what initially attracted me, but the stories were what made me stay. Elizabeth McCracken's latest collection is chock full of gorgeous, descriptive language that left me in awe. As someone especially interested in writing, I found myself picking out sentence after sentence that I wish that I had written myself. This is a collection that everyone from the casual reader to the short story enthusiast can enjoy. If you read one book of short stories this year, make it Thunderstruck.
This is not normally a book I would find myself picking up, but after hearing all the buzz surrounding it, I decided to give Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant a chance. I am so glad that I did. This book takes a topic that as the title describes, might not be so pleasant and gives readers an insightful, humorous look into the issues that one may face when having to take care of their aging parents. The story is told through Roz Chast's simple, but effective, illustrations, making this memoir one that is not to be missed!