By Joyce Poggi Hager
Musings off the Matt is a collection of warm, funny, sometimes heart-wrenching essays by New Jersey writer Joyce Poggi Hager. Ranging from family stories to recipes, they recount her Italian heritage, childhood, motherhood, and early empty nesting, Hager’s stories read like a conversation between two old friends over a cup of coffee – you’re barely a paragraph in when you find yourself feeling like you’ve known this person and her family forever.
Collected from the best of Hager's popular blog series (and featuring a story she'd written for Chicken Soup for the Soul), the essays allow you to meet the author at life's most intriguing, hilarious, and heartfelt moments: from fond childhood memories to mothering her own children, from discovering she has lime disease to helping her elderly and widowed father cope with loneliness and a move to a new city. Written with clean, tight prose, these cheery little stories are sure to provide a comforting escape and calm reassurance to anyone who’s ever dealt with family or found themselves searching for the perfect biscotti recipe. Recommended.
A World War 2 veteran reflects on his past one Christmas Eve. A suburban single-mom moves into a new neighborhood and finds herself dodging the attentions of the eccentric science teacher next door. A young boy takes his first flight in his mother's boyfriend's plane. An aspiring actress in 1950s New York finds help from an unusual source. A man who has everything finds himself in love with the one woman he can never have - or can he?
Uncommon Type is a collection of 17 short stories by Tom Hanks, all of which feature, in one way or another, a typewriter. Book-ended (see what I did there?) with stories of a tight-knit if eccentric group of friends, Hanks' stories are alternately tragic and hilarious, folksy and edgy, hopeful and heartbreaking, but always human. In fact, that's probably the best thing you can say about this book: you put it down feeling that, in some way, the world is a little warmer and a little more home. Not all of the stories come off perfectly - it feels in some that Hanks is stretching his literary muscles a little beyond their capacity - but that being said, its been a while since I've read a new book that made me feel like the human race was all right. I could use a few more books like this one.
(Note to clean-read enthusiasts like myself, there are a few adult scenarios in these stories.)
by Tony Daniel
The USS Enterprise is assigned to Vara Nebula to discover why science outpost Zeta Gibraltar is not answering Federation hailing signals. What they find is a deserted post, no life forms, and signs that indicate a violent firefight. Impossible as it seems, it appears that the members of the science team have been kidnapped by pirates who deal in the slave trade: pirates that are supposed to have been completely dispersed decades ago. The Enterprise immediately goes off in pursuit.. and find not only the pirates and their kidnapped scientists... but Mr. President George Washington as well. This is only the beginning of a strange, twisting adventure that brings Captain Kirk and his intrepid crew face-to-face with some of the heroes and villains from their past.
Savage Trade is one of the few Trek books to really surprise me: constantly moving, with plot twist after plot twist, it's one of the most fun of the books and definitely one of the closest to the feel of the original series. Daniel has done his research on the characters well and if the final act is a little less-than-original and if there are a few unnecessary scenes here and there, the book more than compensates in its cheer, pacing, and sheer reading enjoyment. Highly recommended.
Kirk, Sulu, and Chekov: A+
Spock, McCoy, and Scott: B+
Uhura: too little seen to judge
Book 3 in the Seasons of Love series, by Liwen Ho.
Librarian Chloe McAlister has almost gotten used to life with a cochlear implant, thanks to her best friend Dill Thomas, when life hands her another unforeseen twist: her longtime crush announces his engagement to someone else. On a whim, she signs up for a speed dating session and convinces Dill to go along with her, only to discover that Dill might actually be the man of her dreams after all. But he's met someone else. Is it too late for happily ever after?
Liwen Ho writes short, fun stories that are easily read during your lunch hour and she has the happy knack of writing characters that you like from line one. Chloe and Dill are a likeable pair who are so natural on page that you'd swear you know them in real life. Chloe's struggles with self-image after her cochlear implant feel realistic and it's refreshing to see a rom-com character deal with something so life-altering in a fun, positive way.
This is book three in the Seasons of Love series, and while each book is stand-alone, characters from previous books do crop up in in this one. Highly recommended.
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