Women in Science by Rachel Ignotofsky


Originally published in: 2016

What it’s about: Notable female scientists throughout history.

What made me pick it up: I think I saw it on Twitter. It was about women scientists and I placed a hold immediately because I immensely enjoyed Lab Girl and Headstrong. 

My favorite things: This book is like a good mixed drink: smooth, flavorful, and designed to be sipped slowly. I only read a few pages a day so I could savor the unique illustrations and layouts as well as the mostly new-to-me knowledge of these amazing scientists. The message is empowering for girls of any age and the colors are fabulous. It’d make a great gift for any young devotee of STEM in your life.

Who it’s great for: Those interested in women’s contributions to science. Readers of all ages. Fans of great illustrations. Graphic novel readers who want a nonfiction book. Girls, girls, girls.

Erica’s rating: four-and-a-half-shells

Pick up copies of the books mentioned above at Amazon using our affiliate links: Lab Girl; Headstrong; Women in Science or look for them in your local library.


Movie Review: A Man Called Ove


Originally premiered in: 2016

What it’s about: A curmudgeonly old man tries to move on after losing his wife and his job in quick succession.

What made me watch it: A woman in my book club mentioned it was as good as any huge fan of the book could hope (and I am one!). When the library got a copy I checked it out.

How it stacks up to the book: This was nicely done. It was missing some of the humor that comes from the ability to hear(read) a character’s inner monologue, but still had its moments. Some plot points were rearranged and timelines were condensed, which is to be expected. Overall the characters and relationships are as crisp and powerful as they are in the book and the tugs on your heartstrings just as pronounced. I could watch it over again.

Who it’s great for: Fans of the book. Lovers of foreign films (it’s in Swedish). Viewers looking for a heartfelt story and a sincere and masterful translation from page to screen.

Erica’s rating: four-shells

Get the film or the book from Amazon (affiliate links) or check for them in your local library.

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor


Originally published in: 2015

What it’s about: A sci-fi novella about a teen named Binti – the first of her people to attend a prestigious interstellar university and the struggles she faces getting there.

What made me pick it up: I saw John Green mention the next book Binti: Home on Twitter. A highly recommended sci-fi novella? Sign me up!

My favorite things: This 2016 Nebula Award and 2016 Hugo Award winner for best novella has a quick pace and excellent world building. It will keep you entertained through all of its extraterrestrial escapades. I really enjoyed the character of Binti – she’s full of ingenuity and spunk. It ended on just the right note and now I am eagerly awaiting my holding coming in on the next book. Also, shout out to my alma mater where this author currently teaches.

Who it’s great for: Sci-fi fans. Readers who enjoy a strong female protagonist. Anyone looking for a captivating, but quick, read.

Erica’s rating: four-shells

Find Binti and Binti: Home at Amazon(affiliate links), or look for them in your local library.


The Bestseller Code by Jodie Archer and Matthew L. Jockers


Originally published in: 2016

What it’s about: The authors use text mining and and a fine-tuned algorithm to identify commonalities between chart topping bestsellers and help predict whether or not a book is likely to reach that status.

What made me pick it up: It’s never too early to start prepping for NaNoWriMo, right?

My favorite things: The authors explain complicated research and results in a very accessible way, pointing out the shared characteristics of many bestselling books with seemingly little in common. I appreciated the detailed breakdowns of exactly what made each book successful-it’s fascinating to learn which themes, plot structures, and emotional roller-coasters are most likely to top the charts.

Who it’s great for: Avid readers and aspiring authors of bestsellers. Readers interested in why bestsellers and award winners aren’t always the same books.

Abby’s rating: three-and-a-half-shells

Want a copy? Find one at Amazon (affiliate link) or see if it’s available at a library near you.

Freedom Over Me by Ashley Bryan


Originally published in: 2016

What it’s about: This book depicts the lives, assigned job duties, and hopes and dreams of 11 slaves. It is particularly riveting because it is based on historical documents. It was awarded a Newbery Honor this year as well as a Coretta Scott King Honor for Author.

What made me pick it up: Abby had it checked out, and it caught my eye. I read it on my dinner break.

My favorite things: This book is a good introduction to slavery for younger readers. It includes details of slaves lives without getting too graphic. It has bright colors and exceptional illustrations.

Who it’s great for: Kids who want to explore the topic of slavery.

Erica’s rating: four-shells

Want a copy? Find one at Amazon (affiliate link) or see if it’s available at a library near you.


The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister


Originally published in: 2009

What it’s about: A group of individuals who sign up for a cooking class and how it changes their lives.

What made me pick it up: It has a very engaging cover. The audio was only six hours long.

My favorite things: This book is sweet. I enjoyed all of the characters and the way their stories came full circle in the end. I always enjoy reading about food and cooking, so the descriptions of dishes in this book enchanted me. It might make you hungry. Or at least inspired to cook.

Who it’s great for: Cooks and wannabe cooks. Fans of friendship stories and love stories. Those looking for a fairly gentle novel.

Erica’s rating: four-shells

Want a copy? Find one at Amazon (affiliate link) or your local library.