Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson (2015)

lumberjanesJo, April, Molly, Mal, and Ripley are teen lumberjane scouts at Miss Quinzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types, where they spend the summer learning valuable skills like knot-tying, archery, and battling supernatural creatures. As the girls start running into monsters and brainwashed boy scouts, they realize things at camp may not be what they seem and begin to investigate.

Comic fans will recognize the names Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Faith Erin Hicks, and Shannon Watters and know this is not a series to be missed. Lumberjanes is full of fantastic female characters and references to powerful women (often using phrases like “Oh my Bessie Coleman!”), fun dialogue, and intriguing mysteries. Lumberjanes Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 collect issues #1-8, but if you’re like me and simply can’t get enough, you can check out newer issues through Hoopla or eReadIllinois.

And Then She Was Gone by Rosalind Noonan (2014)

shegoneSet in Oregon, And Then She Was Gone focuses on Lauren O’Neil. At age 11, she was kidnapped on her way home from school. For six long years, her frantic parents search for her, never giving up hope she will be found. Finally, they get the call they’ve been waiting for, only to discover their beloved daughter has been transformed into a polite stranger afraid to come home.

Through the process of reunification, the O’Neil family must learn to become complete again. This novel is written with much sensitivity. Author Rosalind Noonan explores the very complex relationship that develops between child abductors and their victims.

Paradise Sky by Joe R. Lansdale (2015)

paradiseskyIn east Texas, shortly after the end of the Civil War, young Willie inadvertently looks at the hind end of a white woman which causes the lynching of his father. On the run and changing his name to Nat Love, he experiences ranching, buffalo soldiering and Deadwood, South Dakota, in its heyday.

As a story of a black man shortly after the end of the Civil War, there are, of course, sad moments, but Nat’s darkly ironic tone make for a read that hits many emotions from laugh out loud to frown in sadness or exasperation. Joe R. Lansdale’s Paradise Sky is a welcome addition to the genre of humorous tall tale western in the tradition of Little Big Man and The Sisters Brothers.

Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut (1963)

catscradleKurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle is a funny and dark satire on government, religion, and life. John is a writer who is writing a book about what important Americans were doing the day the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. He quickly becomes entangled with the children of one of the bomb’s creators who are in possession of another, dangerous invention that portends doom to the entire world. It is an “out of the frying pan and into the fire” kind of story, where each absurd situation leads into the next. This is a fun read.

Connect the Shapes Crochet Motifs: Creative Techniques for Joining Motifs of All Shapes by Edie Eckman (2012)

connectshapesHave you ever wanted to create a crocheted afghan but never knew where to start? Grab Connect the Shapes! Edie Eckman’s book has 101 crochet motif ideas for projects to work on. Not only does the book teach you how to do individual motifs, but how to join them once you’ve made a few as well. Say sayonara to unfinished blankets!

It also has basic instructions in color theory and how to crochet and in the front of the book for beginners! The patterns range in difficulty to the most basic to ones challenging for even veteran crocheters.

The colors used in the samples are vibrant and so eye-catching that you’ll want to get started on a new project right away. Check it out today to get started. Remember, winter is coming!

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (2015)

girltrainOriginally, something in the description of The Girl on the Train struck a chord reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic thriller Rear Window. It is definitely NOT another Rear Window, but Paula Hawkins nonetheless captured my attention from the first sentence and took me on a train ride through the heartbreak of relationships and alcoholism to the suspense and red herrings of a classic mystery. Rachel Watson is not the picture perfect girl next door she emulates, but readers will quickly find themselves in her corner against all odds.

The Martian by Andy Weir (2014)

martianDid I understand all of the science? No. But it didn’t matter. I challenge you not to get drawn into Mark Watney’s epic quest for survival after he is accidentally left behind on Mars. A thrilling adventure, The Martian is largely told through the log entries of this snarky astronaut with glimpses of NASA personnel on Earth and in space. You may have seen the Matt Damon-led movie adaptation (or at least the previews), but I encourage you to pick up Andy Weir‘s novel!

Some Luck by Jane Smiley (2014)

someluckThis novel is best enjoyed as an audiobook with the narration of Lorelei King. Her clear voice changes tone, tempo, and pitch for the different characters expressing their moods and views as the story proceeds. Her believable renditions are very important in Some Luck, which paints the characters of Rosanna and Walter, on their Iowa farm, and continues with those of their five children as they grow up and find their own way. Some readers or listeners might comment on lack of coherent plot, but the theme is that of the family going through their individual and varied lives while keeping touch with one another.

Jane Smiley’s epic saga continues with Early Warning.

Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight (2015)

wheretheyfoundherThis novel begins with a tragedy in the small affluent college town of Ridgedale, New Jersey: the body of a newborn girl is found buried in the woods near the university.

Molly Sanderson is a journalist, new to town, assigned to cover the sad story. It’s a real challenge for her, as she is suffering from a severe depression following the loss of her own baby. As Molly continues her investigation, she uncovers secrets that have been hidden for decades and comes to the realization that Ridgedale is not the idyllic place that its residents make it out to be.

Where They Found Her has good characters and some surprising twists. I hope Kimberly McCreight plans on writing more novels!

Harley Quinn: Hot in the City by Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner (2014)

harleyquinnEveryone’s favorite psychopath with a heart of gold is back! This time in her own solo comic series, Harley Quinn has broken up with Mister J. She’s out on her own and ready for action. Follow her adventures in the city as she wreaks havoc on its citizens with the best of intentions (ranging from saving animals from euthanasia in an animal shelter to landing a job in a nursing home as a counselor). Check out Harley Quinn: Hot in the City today. Hang on tight, you’re in for a wild ride!