Jan 05 2016

Review: Dumplin’ and a 52-Hertz Whale

Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy tells the story of Willowdean Dickson, self-proclaimed fat girl.  The story opens with Willowdean telling the reader that all the best things in her life have started with a Dolly Parton song. It starts in the summer before first grade with Dumb Blonde from the 1967 debut album “Hello, I’m Dolly.”  …

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Sep 01 2015

Review: Books centering around LGBTQ teens

With the recent Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage and the renewed surge in movements such as the It Gets Better Project and the No H8 campaign, I wanted to focus on Young Adult books centering around LGBTQ teens. Cut Both Ways by Carrie Mesrobian asks the reader “What would happen if you found yourself …

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Aug 01 2015

Offbeat Almanac – August 2015

August 1 slides smoothly into a new month with National Raspberry Cream Pie Day.  I confess, I’m not entirely sold on the idea of Raspberry Cream pie, but I admit it does seem a solid use for the fruits of your labor! August 2 finally gets away from anything fruit related with Ice Cream Sandwich …

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Jul 01 2015

The Offbeat Almanac – July 2015

Everyone is aware of the major holidays.  Sure, people observe things like Canada Day, the Fourth of July, Easter, Mother’s Day, etc.  What often goes unacknowledged, however, are the more unusual holidays.  When is the last time you observed Manatee Appreciation Day or Tolkien Reading Day, (March 25th) or even Elvis’ birthday (August 8th)? Given …

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May 19 2015

Review: The Half Brother by Holly LeCraw

The Half Brother by Holly LeCraw follows the life and career of Charlie Garrett, a Southern transplant to the North.  The book opens with Charlie Garret’s first day in a new job.  The son of a younger widow, Charlie’s mother re-married into an elite family and she and now has young son Nick, whom Charlie …

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Apr 28 2015

Review: Trigger Warning and Hansel and Gretel by Neil Gaiman

As I was planning this column, I began thinking about the concept of fairy tales – not fairy tales in the Hollywood Disney sense, but rather fairy tales as a learning tool, an instruction that the good guys do not always win.  With that in mind, I chose two recent books by Neil Gaiman, whom …

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Feb 24 2015

Review: Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler

Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler recalls the relationship between Isabelle McCallister and Dorrie Curtis, her hair dresser.  The novel begins with a brief introduction by the main character Isabelle.  She confesses that she feels she acted horribly towards Dorrie on their first meeting: her regular hair dresser had quit and Isabelle is not a …

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Jan 13 2015

Review: As You Wish and What If?

Nearly everyone who grew up during the 1980’s has a special fondness for the movie The Princess Bride.  Adults who would have been in their teens when the movie was first released understand the special meaning of the phrase “As You Wish”, are perhaps just a little suspicious of anyone with six fingers, and know …

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Dec 23 2014

Review: The Martian by Andy Weir

The Martian by Andy Weir begins as a typical castaway tale:  the protagonist finds himself suddenly alone in a barren wasteland dependent only on his wits to survive.  In this case, however, the castaway is astronaut Mark Watney and the barren wasteland Mars. A sudden sandstorm forces the Ares 3 crew to abort their mission …

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Nov 11 2014

Review: Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple centers around Bernadette Fox and her family over the course of several months. Once a renowned architect, Bernadette now spends most of her time sitting in an Air Stream trailer parked in their backyard.  Bernadette’s husband, Elgin, is a high level executive at Microsoft, and her daughter Bee …

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