The World’s Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne – Book Review

The World’s Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne
Published by Gotham, an imprint of Penguin

Raise your hand if your favorite librarian is a weigh-lifting Mormon with Tourette Syndrome.

Nobody?

Then clearly you have not yet read Josh Hanagarne’s memoir, The World’s Strongest Librarian.

Josh Hanagarne is the 6’7″ librarian working for the Salt Lake City Library. Between his height, his Tourette’s, and the fact he is a weight-lifter, he isn’t exactly inconspicuous. The World’s Strongest Librarian is a bit of a catch-all memoir, encompassing everything from Hanagarne’s family, to his faith, to his attempts to overcome his Tourette’s.

Hanagarne has a fascinating story and he tells it with a fresh and extremely engaging voice as his love for books intertwines with his attempts to literally (and I swear I’m using this word the correct way here) be stronger than his disease. Readers won’t be able to help but to become involved in Hanagarne’s story, told as it is with wit and wisdom. Recommended.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Publisher.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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Angelopolis by Danielle Trussoni – Mini Book Review

Angelopolis by Danielle Trussoni
Published by Viking Books, an imprint of Penguin

Angelopolis is the second book in the Angelology series. I previously reviewed the first book in this series, Angelology.

From the publisher:

A decade has passed since Verlaine saw Evangeline alight from the Brooklyn Bridge, the sight of her new wings a betrayal that haunts him still. Now an elite angel hunter for the Society of Angelology, he pursues his mission with single-minded devotion: to capture, imprison, and eliminate her kind.

But when Evangeline suddenly appears on a twilit Paris street, Verlaine finds her nature to be unlike any of the other creatures he so mercilessly pursues, casting him into a spiral of doubt and confusion that only grows when she is abducted before his eyes by a creature who has topped the society’s most-wanted list for more than a century. The ensuing chase drives Verlaine and his fellow angelologists from the shadows of the Eiffel Tower to the palaces of St. Petersburg and deep into the provinces of Siberia and the Black Sea coast, where the truth of Evangeline’s origins—as well as forces that could restore or annihilate them all—lie in wait.

I probably need to give up on this series, because it just isn’t what I want it to be. It is not bad by any stretch of the imagination – in fact, that’s the problem, why I can’t give it up. Trussoni uses a lot of thriller conventions, she does them well, but many of them are the reasons I don’t read thrillers. In Angelopolis there are a number of story lines happening simultaneously and the action continually bounces between them. It absolutely keeps the story chugging along and kept me reading compulsively, but it just isn’t my cup of tea.

Trussoni has created a very rich world and I adore all the details of the angels and the Russian tzars. I really can’t fault Trussoni for writing a very good series that just isn’t quite written in the genre I wish it was.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Publisher.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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End Me a Tenor by Joelle Charbonneau – Book Review

End Me a Tenor by Joelle Charbonneau
Published by Berkley, an imprint of Penguin

End Me a Tenor is the second in the Glee Club Mystery series. I have previously reviewed the first book in the series, Murder for Choir.

After months of coaching the Prospect Glen show choir, Paige is finally starting to get the hang of things, at least a little. So when she’s told that she needs to help her students learn an entirely new number in a scarily short amount of time or risk losing her job, she understandably panics a bit. Of course, things aren’t all bad, Paige is getting an amazing career opportunity singing in a production of the Messiah with an amazing tenor, David Richard. Paige runs into David exactly three times: first, he is being punched in the face by the maestra; second, he insults her; third, he takes a sip from his water bottle and falls down dead. Now Paige needs to practice for the role of a lifetime, try to keep her day job, and do her best to solve a murder before she becomes the next victim.

The first book in this series, Murder for Choir, was very enjoyable, but with End Me a Tenor Charbonneau has really hit her stride. She’s got the cozy thing down pat, while still maintaining some of her own voice, so recognizable from the Rebecca Robbins skating series. It would be quite helpful to read Murder for Choir first, because it introduces Paige and a number of important (and vibrant) secondary characters, but if you pick up End Me a Tenor on its own you won’t get lost, by any means.

If you’re in the mood for a fun new cozy series, I highly recommend Charbonneau’s Glee Club Mystery series.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Publisher.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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Hand Me Down by Melanie Thorne – Audiobook Review

Hand Me Down by Melanie Thorne, narrated by Ali Ahn
Published in audio by Recorded Books; published in print by Plume, an imprint of Penguin

Synopsis:

Life has not been easy for fourteen year old Elizabeth Reid and her sister Jaimie. Things got better for awhile once their  mother left their abusive, alcoholic father. The man she brought into their lives next, though, was worse. Terrance is a convicted sex offender who has been jailed more than once for the crimes of exposing himself to and assaulting women. Although Liz’s mother swears up and down that Terrance poses no threat to her adolescent daughters, the lascivious looks and glancing touches he gives Liz tell her otherwise. Worse still are his threats that if Liz pushes back too hard on his flirtatious advances he will turn to her sister. It is almost a relief when Terrance’s parole officer decides that he can have no unsupervised visits with the girls, meaning he can no longer live in the same house as his stepdaughters. The only problem is that Liz’s mother chooses her new husband over her daughters, leaving the girls’ housing to the whims of friends and family.

Thoughts on the story:

With Hand Me Down, Thorne has created a story that draws in the reader immediately. Within less than half an hour of starting the audio, I was tweeting about how incensed I was on behalf of the main character, because the adults in her life put her in such a terrible position. Liz’s mom, in particular, is barely worthy of the title. Thorne does explore her backstory a bit, so that the reader can get an idea of what may have made her so monumentally stupid in this situation, but it isn’t so much that I ever really gave up hating her for her willful blindness. The hate didn’t make me dislike the book, though. On the contrary, the hate just showed me how completely invested I was in Liz’s story, and I, well, devourered Thorne’s story.

Now, yes, the protagonist is fourteen. No, this is not a young adult book, although it certainly has crossover appeal. Why is this an adult book? Well, partly because that is just how it is marketed. Partly also because the setting makes Liz more a contemporary of mine (perhaps even older than me), rather those of kids who are teenagers today. It also just feels as if it was written with an adult audience in mind, which is sort of an intangible quality, but there nonetheless.

Thoughts on the audio production:

I was quite impressed with Ali Ahn’s narration. She does a fabulous job differentiating between voices young and old, male and female. Her portrayal of Elizabeth in particular is quite moving. My only qualm about the audio production is that there were occasionally slightly odd pauses, seemingly the result of imperfect editing. The pause would seem as if the scene had ended, but it would quickly become clear once the narration resumed that the same scene was still ongoing. This happens just a handful of times so it isn’t enough to impede the overall enjoyment of this production – particularly with Ahn’s masterful narration – it is just enough to notice.

Overall:

A moving book paired with an equally moving performance, Hand Me Down is a fabulous listen.

Buy this book from:
Powells: Print*
Indiebound: Print*
Audible.com

Source: Author.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

Sound Bytes is a meme that occurs every Friday! I encourage you to review your audiobooks on Fridays and include the link here. If you have reviewed an audiobook earlier in the week, please feel free to link that review as well. Thanks to Pam for creating the button.

 

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Above All Things by Tanis Rideout – Mini Book Review

Above All Things by Tanis Rideout
Published by Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam, an imprint of Penguin

Because it’s there.
-George Mallory

In 1924, George Mallory made his third and final attempt at Everest. In Above All Things, Tanis Rideout tells the story of his last expedition by alternating between the experiences of the men on the mountain and those of Mallory’s wife, Ruth, waiting at home for news of her husband. I sort of wish that Above All Things could have been only from George Mallory’s point of view, as what was happening in his life was much flashier and more obviously interesting, but interspersing his climb with Ruth’s life serves the story Rideout is telling well. What really makes it work, in my opinion, is the time differential between Ruth and George’s accounts. Everything happening with George takes place a month or so before Ruth’s narrative – the amount of time it takes to get letters from Everest back home to England. This is a brilliant piece of plotting, as it synchronizes the end results of the mission for both of them.

Above All Things is beautifully written, and it brings Mallory’s third Everest expedition to vividly to life.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Publisher.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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