Marie spent five years in prison for helping her (dead) bank-robber boyfriend. Now she's the live-in nanny of Caitlan, the two-year-old daughter of Marie's childhood friend. Marie falls in love with Caitlan. Then she falls in love with Ellen's husband Benoît. Then she goes to France with Caitlan and Benoît. Worst. Nanny. Ever.
Why I picked it up: I like bad girls, especially fictional ones.
Why I finished it: Marie has nothing to lose, and it's fascinating to see her make choices without fear of consequence.
I'd give it to: Schele, the only friend I have with an actual nanny, as a cautionary tale. She'll like the sexy stuff too.
Sam, popular and feared, is dating a total stud. After leaving a party with her three closest friends, they all die in a horrible car accident. It all appears to have been a bad dream when she wakes up the next day. Then she realizes it’s the morning of the day she died. She questions her sanity and moves through the day in a fog. The accident happens again. And again. As she relives her last day over and over, Sam starts to examine her life. For the first time she sees how her selfishness and bullying impact others. She questions her relationship and begins to have feelings for another, less popular boy. Can she can stop the accident and save her own life?
Why I picked it up: The cover blurb by Jay Asher (author of 13 Reasons Why) below the photo of the girl with striking green eyes.
Why I finished it: Sam’s transformation as she deeply examines a day in her life is subtle and nuanced. She is an everywoman, bitchy on some days, kind on others, with definite flaws. I was caught up in the tension of whether she could “fix” things or not.
I'd give it to: L.S. who is so busy she never stops to consider her life. Gossip Girls with heart and feelings.
Theresa taught English, but quit to become a nurse. This book is a record of her first year as an oncology nurse. She takes us through the daily routines on an oncology floor: how patients are handed over to the next-shift, how many people a nurse looks after, and what she does for them. She leads us through chemotherapy in the terms that those who don’t work in healthcare can understand.
She also shares anecdotes to show some of the unbelievable problems she had to deal with. When she was in training, working with a more experienced nurse, they were helping transfer a patient to a chair. There was a sound, then they saw fresh blood on the linen. Her trainer checked, and Theresa heard her say, ’His back split open. His back split open.‘ (The patient did not have sutures or an incision that was healing -- his back had been intact just a minute before.)
Why I picked it up: When I applied for my current job, I thought I was applying for a physical therapist position in an intensive rehab setting. It turned out that PTs at my hospital rotate assignments, and my first nine month assignment was on the oncology floor.
Why I finished it: I felt like I was reliving those days because the setting of the book is so similar to where I work. Theresa is much better at articulating situations I went thru than I could hope to be. I feel like I can hear her telling me stories as if she was sitting next to me, venting about the day’s work.
I sometimes meet healthcare professionals I think are not caring. Theresa showed me that they may be short with others because they’re having a bad day, like we all do. She is very loving and works so hard to help patients maintain their dignity at the end of their lives. I support her fight to maintain the high standard of the care she believes her patients deserve, while others want to lower it because they don’t have enough time, or have too many patients to take care of.
I'd give it to: My friend Jill. Her patient insisted she address him as Dr. so-and-so because he had a Ph.D., so she made him call her “Nurse Jill” because she had also worked hard to get that title. And Dee because I want her to be my nurse if I am in the hospital.
The true story of Bob and Joe Switzer and how they invented Day-Glo colors, told in a wonderfully engaging all-ages picture book biography.
Why I picked it up: How do you even invent a new color?
Why I finished it: Turned out to be a really neat family story. One brother started the project to improve his magic act, the other helped in the basement while recovering from a head injury that dashed his hopes of being a doctor. I totally rooted for the brothers to succeed. Day-Glo colors brighten the illustrations only after they've been invented, and the style reminds me of early sixties advertising cartoons.
I'd give it to: The class I talk to every year about History Day project research, to show them what an amazing end product can come out of research on primary sources. The author didn't find any books about the brothers, so he did original research and conducted interviews with family members, which he writes about at the end of the book. Very cool!
Tesana is a simple, oversized girl who has trouble managing her anger. Her imagination helps her with the harsh realities of the school bus. When she decides to help decorate for a pep rally, she’s ostracized but makes a new friend: the Easter Bunny. She decides to try to take the rabbit back where he belongs despite the huge number of people trying to get their hands on him because he lays colored eggs.
Why I picked it up: The cover reminded me of one of my favorite covers of all time, Street Angel, in both color and composition.
Why I finished it: When the rainbow came out of the flying unicorn’s behind, I decided to keep turning the pages.
I'd give it to: Jess, an animal lover I know who needs to read more comics. Ben, who loved the first season of BSG more than the other two and might like this because it’s also about a high-stakes chase.
Original comics shorts by some amazing crime writers and artists including Brian Azzarello, Gabriel Ba, Ed Brubaker, Rick Geary, Paul Grist, David Lapham, Jeff Lemire, Fabio Moon, Dean Motter, and more. The stories are morally dark and vary in tone and content.
Why I picked it up: When Michael Martens, who works for Dark Horse, mentioned it contained a new Kane story by Paul Grist, I had to read it.
Why I finished it: This is a smorgasbord of the best talent working today. Not every story was to my taste, but there were enough creepy twists to keep me interested. And when I read the Fillbach brothers pro-cowboy story, and I realized I’d met them in North Carolina last year.
I'd give it to: The old lady at the library who liked Dan Simmon’s Hardcase series. I never did find a graphic novel she would finish.
Jessie has two great friends that she has grown up with. When they pull a 180 and show up dressed as punk rockers for the first day of school, she is surprised. She sticks by them, but they use her for access to her brother and his band. When her friend Bizza messes around with Jessie’s crush, it is the final straw. Jessie is somewhat attracted to a nerd boy. As she gets closer to him and his friends, she is hyper aware she’ll be committing social suicide if she plays Dungeons & Dragons and goes to a renaissance faire.
(Wait a second, I played Dungeons and Dragons back in the day, what does that say about me?)
Why I picked it up: I was invited to a publisher’s dinner in Chicago and was slated to meet and discuss the book with the author, so I wanted to be prepared by reading her book.
Why I finished it: It is a brutally honest book about high school and the calculus of popularity that Jessie must make as she ponders where to focus her social energy and what the cost will be. The book is handled with nuance and tact and gives a realistic picture of the layers of popularity and friendship in modern high schools.
I'd give it to: Sarah, who liked the TV show Freaks and Geeks which explored the same territory with sweetness and frank discussions of high school politics. Missy, who enjoyed Kate Brian's Sweet 16, where Teagan wakes up to the fact her popular life is glitzy but shallow.