Deer Falls by Samantha Lady

The Author is from the Willamette Valley (Linn/Benton/Lincoln Counties) and uses a lot of local natural attractions in her settings. However, the most impactful part of this series-in-a-novel book was the topics that hit so close to home. She focuses on the challenges of being an older teen/young adult raised in poverty & abuse. Parents with alcohol & drug issues, physical abuse & rage, homelessness, rape, and so much more... Her writing style is a bit more realistic than those of similar context that Ive come across. Very uplifting read for those fighting to break the cycles or in the position to look back on their journey. Back to Book Reviews

Gilded Cage by Vic James

Gilded Cage is a fantastical alternative history of England. Told mainly from the perspective of two different families – the middle class Hadleys and the aristocratic Jardines – that are on opposite ends of the class spectrum. Average citizens are required to give 10 years of their life to slavery, in a horrid factory town or serving the Equals – the magical aristocracy. The Hadley family has secured themselves a spot serving the Jardine family, but the Hadley son is not on the list and is sent to a brutal factory town. There he discovers not everything is as it seems, with undercurrents of rebellion. When the rest of the Hadley family goes to the Jardine estate and is swept into their odd and secretive life. This is a rather dark book, but author Vic James shows an alternative world that is brutal to those not in power, but also shows that there is kindness and caring when the world looks bleak. Fascinated with all things British, I liked seeing the English landscape set with a different set of characters. Magic and love also play a role in this riveting book! This is the first in the series. Back to Book Reviews

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me

Relatable, down-to-earth, humorous story about the romantic relationships we pursue that we know deep down are just no good for us. The main character, Frederica or Freddy, is a high school student who is dating the most popular and cutest girl in school, Laura Dean. Laura, however, is not such a great girlfriend to Freddy and we see Freddy sacrifice other relationships so she can put Laura first. As Freddy neglects friendships to be available to Laura, she learns some important lessons about who is really important in her life and the kind of person Laura really is. Anyone who has ever been in a relationship they know is bad for them will completely relate to this very charming, well-written story. A great title for teens as well as adults. Back to Book Reviews

Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport

This book made me consider and reexamine my relationship to technology, especially the way I use my phone. Like many, I check my phone repeatedly throughout the day and refer to it constantly. The author is challenging people to adopt practices such as not taking your phone with you certain places and/or creating times in the day when you check for calls and messages rather than checking for them throughout the entire day. It also got me thinking a lot about what I want to use my phone to accomplish - mindless scrolling through social media or news feeds, or more deliberate actions such as learning a language or listening to an informative book. It has definitely had an influence on my habits around technology use and I think pretty much any smartphone user could get some benefit from reading this book. Back to Book Reviews

The Hunting Accident by David L. Carlson & Landis Blair

This is a graphic memoir about a young boy who goes to live with his dad, whom he hasn't spent much time with since his parents divorce, after his mother dies. His dad is a blind poet and most of the story is about his secret life as a Chicago gangster blinded in a shootout and sent to prison. In prison, he becomes close to Nathan Leopold, of the infamous Leopold and Loeb. Leopold actually helps him come to term with his blindness. It's a fascinating story illustrated beautifully by Landis Blair. The artwork captured incorporated elements of Braille in a way that was visually stunning. This is one of those stories that really demonstrates the power of the graphic medium to create a story that is absolutely unique, arresting, and could never be replicated with just prose. It's also a story about how a boy and his dad learn to live with each other and understand each other after not being close and coming from two very different worlds. A very unexpected story that is brilliantly told. Back to Book Reviews

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

The story of an elaborate heist in the kingdom of Camorr where the royalty lives in glass towers, and the rest of humanity live in colorful but decaying island neighborhoods, a group of urchins are raised in the faith of The Crooked Warden, a god of trickery. They progress from picking pockets to elaborate costumed con jobs, and eventually set their sights on the royalty. When they are forced in to a particularly dangerous job by a ruthless gang leader, their hoax begins to fall apart, and their cleverness is put to the test. The characters are entertaining and the plot is inventive and cleverly revealed. Back to Book Reviews

Yes, I”m Hot in This by Huda Fahmy

Hilarious and eye opening. I was blown away by the types of questions she gets asked. There were a few pages that were so powerful and full of strength, I kept going back to look at them again. I definitely learned something. Her sense of humor is just the best - I laughed and laughed while I gained a much more empathetic view of life in the hijab. Back to Book Reviews

The inspired houseplant by Jen Stearns

Excellent book for anyone on choosing, growing, and caring for indoor plants. Detailed, useful profiles of individual plants including their needs and optimal environment. This is a handy resource I'll refer to frequently that's appropriate for a beginner to intermediate indoor gardener. Back to Book Reviews

Plant Style by Alana Langan & Jacqui Vidal

Lots of ideas on placement and display of indoor plants. Includes information about growing various plants as well the best environment for them. The authors are of Ivy Muse ("a botanical wares studio" based in Australia). If you're looking for ideas on how to use living greenery to decorate your space, this is a great place to start. For details on care of indoor plants, there's better and more information in other books. Back to Book Reviews

Self-care for the Real World by Nadia Narain

A book about the many different ways one can (and should!) take care of themselves. The authors emphasize small steps and use a friendly, kind, accepting, and soothing tone throughout the book. Although I found it got a bit repetitive when reading it all at once, I get the sense it is more a book you are supposed to dip into from time-to-time when you need that gentle nudge to take some time out for yourself, no matter how brief. Meditation, yoga, healthful eating, and letting go of self-criticism all feature prominently, but it is not preachy and the authors point out many times that some forms of self-care aren't for everyone and people should find what works best for them. There are chapters for people experiencing grief and trauma as well. If you've read other books on this theme, I don't think there's anything new here, but it would make a lovely gift book for a young person entering adulthood or for someone who may have been having a difficult time recently. As a bonus it includes healthy recipes that appear simple and tasty. Back to Book Reviews