Like most young teachers, Laura Freedman wanted to make a difference. She teased her students’ creativity with assignments such as “write a one-page story in which your favorite mystical creature resolves the greatest sociopolitical problem of our time.” Alas, she had her own demons to battle, and after a dramatic breakdown is committed to a mental health facility. Winner of the John Simmons Short Fiction Award, When Mystical Creatures Attack! is a sparkling debut from Kathleen Founds. Each of the twenty-five linked mini-stories contains a magic of its own, and the sum total burns bright and true. Presented in letters, journal entries, assignments, and e-mails, the commentary may be humorous — even absurd — but the struggles are achingly real.
Check It Out Category: Humor
If Guardians of the Galaxy has increased your appetite for fun with heroes, villains, and sharp images, Super Graphic: A Visual Guide to the Comic Book Universe is just the companion you need. Tim Leong has combined imagination and analytics in a wild collection of graphs, charts, and tables that explores in glorious geeky detail the trivia that thrills true fans. Vibrantly colored infographics decipher the many affiliations of the Marvel universe or even the convergences of the big three superhero tropes. The diagrams aren’t limited to cape-wearers, so you’ll find data on stories as different as Persepolis, Tintin, and The Walking Dead. Rich with clever design and bold geometric definition, Super Graphic allows you to bask in the small details that add up to larger-than-life adventures.
When times are tough, it can be easy to wish for a little more awesome in our lives, but perhaps the awesome is already there, and we just need to take notice! Celebrate finding the amazing in the ordinary in The Book of Awesome: Snow Days, Bakery Air, Finding Money in Your Pocket, and Other Simple, Brilliant Things by Neil Pasricha, founder of the website 1000 Awesome Things. With bright spots ranging from “eating the French fries at the bottom of the bag” and “the smell of rain on a hot sidewalk” to “the sound of ice cubes cracking in a drink” or “when you hear someone’s smile over the phone,” you can’t help but feel your spirits lift. Open your eyes to simple pleasures and a happier outlook.
“Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me.” F. Scott Fitzgerald’s words turn out to be a hard lesson to learn for economist Rachel Chu. She agrees to accompany her boyfriend Nick to his best friend’s wedding in Singapore, excited and a little apprehensive to finally meet his family. What he hasn’t mentioned is that he comes from staggering wealth, so she has no idea of the spectacle of excess she is about to face. Will this change her opinion of Nick? Narrator Lynn Chen plays with humor and drama, all while helping listeners keep a host of characters distinct. Crazy Rich Asians is an affectionate satire paired with relationship drama that is ideal for those who enjoyed The Devil Wears Prada.
Badfellas was the original English title, and that alone gives a tease of what Malavita has on tap. When a Mafia kingpin testifies in exchange for witness protection, Giovanni Manzoni becomes Fred Blake, and he and his family find themselves living in Normandy, France. They mostly follow the rules, but old habits are hard to break. It only takes one slip before old friends who’ve become new enemies come calling all the way from Alcatraz. A film adaptation, The Family, stars Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer, but you can’t miss the story in audio. Sopranos actor and 2013 Audie Award winner for Best Solo Narration, Edoardo Ballerini deliciously balances the menace, the dark comedy, and the Italian sensibilities of Tonino Benacquista’s international crime caper.