Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Don't Let the Republican Drive the Bus by Erich Origen & Gan Golan

With election season coming around and the usual circus that ensues, I couldn’t resist writing a review on Don’t Let the Republican Drive the Bus! by Erich Origen and Gan Golan. This book is a parody to the very popular children’s book, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems. If you haven’t read Mo Willems’ book, you won’t appreciate the satire, so do yourself a favor and pick it up and have a laugh.

As for the parody, The Republican (vulture) who replaces our beloved pigeon is dying to take the wheel and the fit he throws trying to get his way is hilariously disturbing mainly because it accurately reflects the climate of our political system. Like any good parody, Don’t Let the Republican Drive the Bus! follows the structure of the original picture book with quality inspired illustrations.

The Republican takes aim at everything presumed wrong with America like socialism, equality, taxes, unions and so much more. This vulture holds nothing back and takes care to insult EVERYONE while attempting to plead his case for a turn at the wheel.
Though this is a parody of a children’s book, it is not for kids. Now that I’ve made that disclaimer, go read and have a laugh. Oh by the way, there is a special guest appearance by The Democrat (chicken).

Review by Trinika A.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Remarkable Trees of Virginia by Nancy Ross Hugo and Jeff Kirwan

Some might consider Remarkable Trees of Virginia by Nancy Ross Hugo and Jeff Kirwan a coffee table book and it very well may be, but that doesn’t negate from the fact that this truly is a remarkable book. I personally  would not recommend letting this book sit on a table or book shelf for too long. Instead, this book should be opened often whenever you’re looking for a new adventure.

I first came across this book several years ago at the library. I was in the process of writing and I wanted to capture the essence of driving down Interstate 64 with the towering trees on either side of the endless two-lane road. What I found inside of Remarkable Trees of Virginia was something so much more captivating; I discovered exactly what lies beyond the long stretch of towering trees.

Considering Virginia’s rich history, this is the perfect book to jump in the car with and map out an impromptu road trip/scavenger hunt. Trees from every corner of the state are highlighted in this book. The authors not only captured remarkable trees but many destinations of historical significance as well.

The spectacular photography by Robert Llewellyn captures the essence of each new location. For those unable to venture out to explore these trees personally, the book’s full color images capture each tree’s unique locale. History buffs and adventurist alike will appreciate lifelike images and descriptive narrative about the trees of  Virginia. Therefore,  I would recommend Remarkable Trees of Virginia to anyone who appreciates nature and local history.

Review by Trinika A.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Paper Girls (vol 1.) by Brian K. Vaughan

Paper Girls (vol 1.) by Brian K. Vaughan

28204534The year is 1988, the date is Halloween, and 12-year-old Erin is setting out on her early-morning paper route. She encounters a group of boys who try to harass her, only to have them stopped by a gang of street-smart paper girls.  

And that's just the beginning of the wild ride in store for Erin... this book collects the first 5 volumes of this new comic series, and after reading it, I'm still not totally sure what's happening.  There are pteradacyls, and  time travel, and it all happens so quickly that readers won't be able to put this one down.

Illustrator Cliff Chiang perfectly captures the bright colors of the 1980s, while also creating this spooky early morning setting.

This graphic novel will appeal to teens (there is some strong language, but nothing teens haven't heard before) as well as adults nostalgic for the 80s.

Readers looking for graphic novels with strong female characters may also be interested in Lumberjanes and Ms. Marvel


Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig


The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

Nix has grown up on her father's ship, The Temptation.  Her father, Captain Slate is a navigator: he has the ability to sail his ship to any time and place, as long as he has a map of it.

When Nix was born in 1868 Honolulu, her father was "at sea" -- he didn't even know her mother was expecting.  By the time he returned, her mother has died in childbirth, and he takes Nix with him on his travels.

Now, he has one quest: to find an original map of 1868 Oahu, to return to his lost love and save her, but changing her history could erase Nix from existence.

Fast-paced and action packed, Heilig's debut novel takes readers on a thrilling journey, with stops in nineteenth century Hawaii, ancient China, and present day NYC.   Having lived in Honolulu myself, I especially enjoyed her descriptions of the island in the 1880s.

Readers will be left waiting for more -- this is a planned duology, but a publication date has not yet been announced for book 2.   While you're waiting, check out other YA time travel novels such as: the  Ruby Red trilogy by Kerstin Gier, Passenger by Alexandra Bracken, and of course, the classic A Wrinkle in Time (and its sequels) by Madeleine L'Engle.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter

Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter


Perhaps you've heard of this little Broadway musical called Hamilton?   Won a few (or 11) Tony Awards?

One of our VBPLRecommends bloggers reviewed the cast album a few weeks ago, so I'm not here to talk about the cast album today (even if I listen to it everyday on the way home from work...) I'm here to tell you about Hamilton: The Revolution -- the recently published book about the musical.

This massive tome, weighing in at over 2 pounds, contains the full libretto with annotations from the composer,  Each song from the musical is also accompanied by a chapter detailing important moments in the creation of the musical.

There is an audiobook available as well, narrated by Mariska Hargitay. While I enjoyed the audibook and do recommend it, the book itself if a must-see for any fan of the musical, for the color photos alone.

Hamilton: The Revolution can be found in the VBPL collection in print, ebook, and downloadable audiobook.  And while you're waiting, check out this great PBS documentary about the history of Broadway.

Also, if you're still waiting for a hold on the CD of the cast album? You can check it out from Hoopla, one of VBPL's digital collections: https://www.hoopladigital.com/title/11441712

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Summer Days and Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories, edited by Stephanie Perkins

Summer Days and Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories, Edited by Stephanie Perkins

Stephanie Perkins, best known for Anna and the French Kiss has edited a brand new collection of short stories for teens, just in time for reading at the beach!

Every story in the collection is a love story that takes place during the summer, but that's about all they have in common. The stories span many genres, including urban fantasy, horror, contemporary romance.  The characters are also diverse, and several of the love stories are between LGBT characters.

I find that short story collections are a great way to get a taste of new-to-me authors. Frequent readers of YA fiction will recognize many of the authors in this collection (links below go to the authors' works in the VBPL catalog):

  • Leigh Bardugo
  • Francesca Lia Block
  • Libba Bray
  • Cassandra Clare
  • Brandy Colbert
  • Tim Federle
  • Lev Grossman
  • Nina Lacour
  • Stephanie Perkins
  • Veronica Roth
  • Jon Skovron
  • Jennifer E. Smith

Readers who enjoy Summer Days and Summer Nights will also enjoy Perkins' first edited short story collection, My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories (who says you can't read Christmas romances at the beach!), and other short story collections, such as Twice Told, First Kiss (Then Tell), and Foretold.

Search for more YA Short Story Collections in the VBPL Catalog!

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Gilded Hour by Sara Donati

24611868The Gilded Hour by Sara Donati 

Set in New York City in 1883 as the Brooklyn Bridge is going up, The Gilded Hour is the first novel in a new series by historical fiction author Sara Donati.

Anna Savard is a surgeon, one of a very small number of women in that role. She is called in to examine a group of orphans for signs of smallpox, and she meets a family of four children who have just lost their mother. Two these orphans go missing in a chaotic day at the docks, and she feels compelled to help reunite these siblings. In the process, she meets detective Jack Mezzanotte, and sparks begin to fly...

Anna's cousin Sophie is also a doctor, an obstetrician, and is the daughter of free people of color. Because of the discrimination she has faced her whole life, she continually refuses to marry childhood best friend and suitor Cap Verhoeven, who is now dying of Consumption. Her medical practice often takes her into the homes of women in difficult circumstances, and her attempts to help them make her the focus of Anthony Comstock, a crusader against contraception.

It's hard to do a 700 page historical novel justice in a few pages -- there is just so much detail, and it's clear that Donati has throroughly researched the era.  At the same time, the historical detail is deftly woven into a compelling tale of family, romance, medicine, and even mystery, so that it is never dry.  I started listening to this on audio, ended up switching back and forth between the print and the audio because I just didn't want to put it down, finishing the whole thing in 4 days.

Readers should be aware that this is the first in a series, and the ending will leave them anxiously awaiting the sequel.

Readers who enjoy The Gilded Hour should definitely check out Sara Donati's first series, beginning with Into the Wilderness.  (And for those who have already read the earlier series -- they are connected -- Anna and Sophie are descendants of characters from that series).  And any review of detailed historical fiction about strong women who practice medicine would be incomplete without mentioning Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series.