At Literati Bookstore in Ann Arbor, there is a typewriter that is open to the public, so anyone is welcome to type and leave a message. Notes from a Public Typewriter is a collection of some of the staff's favorites. The notes range from funny comments and jokes, to advice, to whatever popped into the writer's head. Some of the comments are clever, others are heartbreaking, and some are just ridiculous.
My favorites included:
"Watching my son try to type a single sentence is like watching a crocodile trying to do ballet."
"Everyone has a superpower. The trick is to find it."
"Sometimes I get lost just to assure myself someone cares enough to find me."
This is just one of those fun books to have on your coffee table for anyone to skim through.
In the world of The Coincidence Makers, nothing happens by chance. Every small event that takes place, a spilled drink, bumping into a stranger, even a certain song that you hear, is part of a bigger plan. There is a group of people who cause these "coincidences," and their purpose is to help people achieve or gain things that they might not have on their own. They help people discover hidden talents, invent items to help mankind, and even fall in love. Guy has been a coincidence maker for several years, but when he's asked to help with a bigger coincidence than he ever has before, it's a wonderful opportunity for him. However, there's a catch, something that Guy isn't comfortable with, but if he doesn't help with the coincidence, it could have consequences that affect hundreds of lives, including his own.
The Coincidence Makers is definitely different from anything I've read, and I enjoyed the unique ideas that Blum introduces. It's a story that will make you think about life and the decisions that you make.
Trapped in a Jewish ghetto, twins Gittel and Chaim have lived in a small apartment with their parents for several years, until they attempt a daring escape. The children end up with partisans, traveling through the forest towards the Soviet border and safety. But, their journey comes to a tragic end when a surprise attack leaves the partisans dead. Their attackers take the twins to a Nazi work camp, where they are forced to make munitions for the war.
Yolen's stories about the horrors of the Holocaust are powerful and compelling. She does an amazing job of exploring the impact that the Holocaust had, and fans of her novels will not be disappointed.
In a group of highly-evolved humans, seventeen-year-old Julia has always felt like the odd person out. She has abilities she doesn't understand, and that her dad has forbidden her to talk about or use. But when Julia accidentally uses them in public and puts her community at risk, her father banishes her to a public high school, where she is expected to completely blend in to prove herself.
But Julia falls for one of her classmates. With Julia's family leaving soon for a safe haven, she learns more about her community and her father, and she has to choose between her new life or her family.
Select is the first book in this new young adult series, The Select. It's an interesting coming of age story and a good one for fans of the Divergent series.
For those of you who are fans of historical fiction, White Chrysanthemum is a great one to start off with in 2018. Told from the perspective of two sisters living in Korea, half of the story takes place in 1943 and half in 2011.
It starts with sixteen-year-old Hana being kidnapped by Japanese soldiers to be a "comfort woman" in a Japanese military brothel. Hana sacrificed herself to protect her younger sister Emi, who is consumed with guilt, even decades later.
Years later, in 2011 the surviving "comfort women" have banded together to seek justice from the Japanese government. Having spent years not knowing what happened to her sister, Emi goes to the women's protests searching for any clue that will bring her some closure.
White Chrysanthemum is a fascinating and captivating look at a little known piece of WWII history.
Gunslinger Girl is a fascinating mix between a post-apocalyptic novel and a western, set in the United States as the world is rebuilding after being devastated by war. About two decades before the start of the novel, the United States went through a second civil war, and the losing side, the Patriots, are still being punished.
Serendipity "Pity" Jones' mother was one of the Patriots, but talked her way out out of being executed for her actions during the war. Only a small percentage of women are still fertile, and Pity's mother was one. She agreed to marry and have children to help rebuild the new United States in return for her life being spared. But she was stuck in a loveless and abusive marriage, and Pity's father doesn't treat Pity any better. When her father tries to marry her off, Pity runs away from home, and ends up in the lawless city of Cessation, where she is given the chance to make a new life for herself. Pity finds living in Cessation comes with its own challenges, and it isn't long before she is stuck in the middle of a political battle where she has to decide what is worth fighting for.
Gunslinger Girl is a phenomenal story that I didn't want to put down. Part of the reason I enjoyed it so much was because it wasn't predictable, and the plot and characters were so well-written. This is definitely one of the best young adult novels I have read in a long time.
Before We Were Yours is based on the true story of Georgia Tann, a woman from Memphis, Tennessee, who ran the Tennessee Children's Home Society orphanage in the 1920s-1940s. Tann's organization kidnapped children or tricked parents into signing their children away. She would then sell them to prominent families who couldn't have children of their own.
The story switches between the past and the present. In 1939, Rill Foss' mother and father head to the hospital because her mother is in labor with twins, leaving their five children alone on their riverboat house. The five siblings are kidnapped, and thrown into one of Tann's homes. There, they face malnourishment, abuse, and the realities of being separated as each is adopted.
In the present, Avery Stafford is the daughter of a U.S. senator, and is being groomed to take her father's seat. During a visit to a nursing home, she has an odd encounter with a resident named May that leads Avery to start asking some questions about her family's past.
I loved this story; it's a very powerful look at a little known piece of American history.
10 Things You Might Not Know About Nearly Everything is a collection of newspaper columns of the same name from the Chicago Tribune. The book's fourteen chapters cover a wide range of subjects, from language to politics to sports - just to name a few. Each chapter consists of lists of ten things about topics related to the overall subject. The book is very informative and a fun read.
Some of my favorite facts from the book are:
1. Ice Cream - When actor Clint Eastwood ran for mayor of Carmel, California, in 1986, a major issue was ice cream. Town leaders had banned the sale of ice cream cones, incensing Eastwood and his supporters. They won and overturned the ordinance.
2. Toys - Play-Doh was invented as a wallpaper cleaner.
3. Football Coaches - At every game, Louisiana State University coach Les Miles performs a ritual "that lets me know that I'm a part of the field and part of the game." What is it? He eats the grass. But Miles downplays his routine: "I chew one blade of grass. It's not a casserole. One blade. Not a meal."
In this fast-paced thriller, successful environmental lawyer Abby Williams is brought back to her small Indiana town for work, where Optimal Plastics, a company that has helped rebuild the town and its economy, is under suspicion for water pollution. While investigating the pollution claims, Abby also becomes obsessed with discovering what happened to a classmate who disappeared 10 years earlier after a scandal that left many unanswered questions - a disappearance that has haunted her for years. In both cases, the search for truth leads Abby down a dark path of corruption and secrets. This is a remarkable debut novel and the must-read thriller of this winter.
The "Choose Your Own Adventure" stories were really popular in the 1980s and 1990s, despite the fact that the conclusion of most of the storylines was that you died in some way. Kristin Cashore started Jane, Unlimited as one of those types of books, but ended up choosing just five plot lines for her readers to enjoy.
During college, Jane was tutored by the rich but flighty Kiran Thrash. The Thrash family is one of the wealthiest and eccentric in the world. Every year they hold a huge spring gala at their home, Tu Reviens. Jane hasn't seen Kiran in several years, but out of the blue they run into each other at the bookstore where Jane works and Kiran invites Jane to her family's gala. Normally Jane won't go, but before she passed away, Jane's aunt, who raised her, made Jane promise that she would go to Tu Reviens if she was ever invited. Though the promise makes no sense to Jane, she accepts Kiran's invitation.
After arriving at Tu Reviens, Jane reaches a point where she has to pick one of five characters to follow. Each choice will lead her on a different path. This is where Cashore separates the story into five different parts, each exploring what would happen to Jane if that was the decision she made.
Some of the parts of Jane, Unlimited were really fun, some were strange, and some were disturbing. However, it certainly is an interesting and unique story.