“Of the first few hauntings I investigated with Lockwood & Co. I intend to say little, in part to protect the identity of the victims, in part because of the gruesome nature of the incidents, but mainly because, in a variety of ingenious ways, we succeeded in messing them all up.”
Ever since the Problem began (in Kent), no one goes out at night, not unless they’re armed with iron and salt to guard against spirits. For the last fifty years, nighttime is when ghostly Visitors come out to lament or avenge their untimely deaths, terrorize the living, drive down real estate assessments, etc. Because the young are particularly sensitive to paranormal energies, children and teens with psychic talents are prized as field operatives for the best ghost-investigating agencies.
Lucy Carlyle, age 15, is the newest hire at a not-so-reputable agency, Lockwood and Co., a small-time outfit run without adult supervisors by “old enough and young enough” Anthony Lockwood and his colleague George. Lockwood, proprietor, can see the residual death-glows where someone has died; Lucy can hear their voices, if she gets close enough; and George does research and cooks.
When their latest case results in not only failing to rid the premises of a ghost, but also burning the house down, Lockwood’s only chance at keeping the agency afloat is to land a really lucrative client. Say, the CEO of Fairfax Iron, owner of the most haunted private house in England, epicenter of dozens of rumored hauntings along its Screaming Staircase and in its sinister library, the Red Room. All the agents have to do is spend one night in the manor… and live.
This first book in a new series from the author of the Bartimaeus books has well-paced action and good old-fashioned swashbuckling with silver-tipped rapiers. Lockwood is dashing and cheeky, a Sherlock Holmes with two Watsons who, while inspiring his cohorts to their best work, never lets them in on his thoughts or his plan. He and Lucy and George are a camaraderie-in-the-making, if only they didn’t get on one another’s nerves quite so often.
“I’m being ironic. Or is it sarcastic? I can never remember.”
“Irony’s cleverer, so you’re probably being sarcastic.”
Fast moving, witty, and nicely creepy, the series is written for a middle grade audience, but entertaining enough for any age that appreciates a good ghost story.
Check the WRL catalog for The Screaming Staircase.
Jan shares this review:
As a librarian, “Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them,” may be the best advice I have ever heard. This sterling counsel comes from children’s book author Lemony Snicket. His slim volume of silliness, Horseradish: Bitter Truths you Can’t Avoid, is full of similar useful admonitions. Lemony Snicket (or his alter-ego Daniel Handler) is most famous for his bestselling Series of Unfortunate Events, where his humor is also off beat, and always unexpected. I thought at first that this was a book of quotes from his other works, but he seems to have created original aphorisms, such as, “After you leave home you may find yourself feeling homesick, even if you have a new home that has nicer wallpaper and a more efficient dishwasher than the home in which you grew up.” As a person who tends to get left with the dishes, I judge my many past homes on the remembered quality of their dishwashers, so I consider this quite germane.
The book is arranged into thirteen chapters of advice pithy or wordy, starting with “Chapter 1: Home” and “Chapter 2: Family” and going on to “Chapter 12: An Overall Feeling of Doom that One Cannot Ever Escape No Matter What One Does.” There are many truisms to pop in and visit, no matter how you are feeling. The back cover of this book promises that its contents will not help with life’s “turbulent journey” but I beg to differ; life is always helped by laughter and a fresh perspective and Lemony Snicket can be relied upon to provide both. Try Horseradish: Bitter Truths you Can’t Avoid if you are in the mood for some frivolous fun, or you want an axiom that is more apt than usual. And remember, “A library is like an island in a vast sea of ignorance, particularly if the library is very tall and the surrounding area has been flooded.”
Check the WRL catalog for Horseradish: Bitter Truths you Can’t Avoid.
Jessica shares this review:
What a thrill! This action filled novel is the first in the new series The Legion by Kami Garcia, co-author of the Beautiful Creatures young adult series.
We first meet Kennedy, a teen living a pretty normal life…until the day she mysteriously finds her mother dead at home. Devastated and alone (her father also left rather oddly years before) Kennedy cannot begin to imagine what is in store. When she is suddenly attacked by a force she can’t explain, twin brothers Jared and Lukas spring to her rescue. Confused, Kennedy doesn’t know whether to trust the brothers, or run away screaming in search of the police. But when they reveal they are part of a secret organization that has existed for hundreds of years to protect the world from a powerful demon, and that Kennedy’s mom was a part of the organization as well, she is truly baffled. Yet there is something in the brothers that she trusts and her curiosity gets the better of her. While the brothers continue to fill her in (including the fact that she must take her mother’s place among the other four members, all teens who lost their parents on that one fateful night) Kennedy finds herself in a new place surrounded by four exceptional people, all with unique talents and skills which far surpass the ones she believes exist within herself.
As the book progresses Kennedy surprisingly seems to fall into her new role and proves she has something to offer the others. But something is wrong too. Something that separates Kennedy. Something no one can seem to put their finger on. What will it mean for the team? More importantly, what will it mean for all of humanity? A great start to what is sure to be a fast paced, mystery-filled series (with a hint of romance) that brings in not only the paranormal but religious type-themes found in The Da Vinci Code as well.
Check the WRL catalog for Unbreakable.
Rachael shares this review:
Leonard Peacock, age 18 today, doesn’t connect with anyone at school except for Herr Silverman, his social studies teacher. He spends his free time with a chain-smoking elderly neighbor watching Bogart films, and surfing the subway dressed in a suit, observing the workaday adults looking for any sign that “it’s possible to be an adult and also be happy.” He sometimes writes letters to himself from imagined loved ones from his future, as suggested by Herr Silverman to get through the daily life of his teenage experience. Leonard is a loner, to say the least, his self-absorbed failed rock-star father gone, and his aging model mother, pursuing a mid-life career as a fashion designer spending most of her time in New York with an insidious “Jean-Luc.” None of these are the reasons Leonard has decided to kill himself and his once best friend Asher Beal today.
Leonard Peacock has a bitterly funny and painfully sincere perspective reminiscent of Holden Caulfield, questioning the norms of a world in which so much seems wrong. He laments a world lulled into the habit of accepting or ignoring everyday evils, but because he harbors hope for the better: “Call an old friend you haven’t seen in years. Roll up your pant legs and walk into the sea. See a foreign film. Do anything! Something! Because you start a revolution one decision at a time, with each breath you take. Just don’t go back to that miserable place you go every day.”
This book is swiftly-paced, darkly humorous, and probably for the more pensive reader of realistic fiction. The darker themes may resonate more with older young adult readers, and adult readers shouldn’t miss out on this YA gem (Quick also wrote The Silver Linings Playbook). The characters are flawed, real, and some lovely. Several long footnotes/sidebars annoy at first, but seem to drop away once the main story and characters are established. Quick offers a perspective on hope and happiness in spite of terrible events, rather than for lack of them, and that happiness can require work. I really connected with this book and feel compelled to read the rest of his work – all of which have been optioned for film.
Check the WRL catalog for Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock
When he takes a shortcut through a cemetery, Manta Oyamada meets a strange kid with headphones — surrounded by ghosts. The kid is the teenage shaman Yoh Asakura. Tapping the supernatural swordfighting powers of samurai ghost Admidamaru, Yoh fights Bokuto no Ryu, a sword-wielding gang member. But an even more dangerous opponent is stalking Yoh and Manta — a Chinese shaman who wants to possess Amidamaru. -Book Summary
Shaman King is a manga that centers around a teen with the ability to see spirits. He comes from a family of shamans, hence the name, and uses his gifts to protect the spirits in the area.
I found the characters to be likeable and humorous. The writer even used the side characters to his advantage in certain situations which really brought out other characters’ personalities. Although they are all likeable, each character has their own personal flaw. I found it interesting how each character changed throughout the book and how it effected the story.
Altogether, the first volume of Shaman King was excellent and should be enjoyed by many.
Check the WRL catalog for Shaman King, Volume 1
Lily shares this review:
Scarlet’s grandmother is missing. The townspeople suspect suicide…what else could it be? No note. No missing items. Just gone. Scarlet refuses to believe her grandmother would do such a horrible thing. Her grandmother, the kind and somewhat strict woman that raised Scarlet after the passing of her mother. No. It was not suicide. But what?
Then she meets Wolf, a cryptic street fighter with information on her grandmother’s whereabouts. What Scarlet doesn’t expect, after she decides to let him help, is to fall in love.
Meanwhile, Cinder, with the humorous and ‘charming’ convict named Thorne, escape from prison and flee to outer-space. Cinder is still very apprehensive of her Lunar gift, not just because she doesn’t want to control people, but that she enjoys it when she does.
Queen Levana is on the move – sneaking her way through Prince Kai’s defenses – and is coming closer and closer to having the Eastern Commonwealth in her clutches.
Marissa Meyer does not disappoint in this sequel to Cinder.
Check the WRL catalog for Scarlet
Christine shares this review:
I admit it; I occasionally hit a reading slump. I’m surrounded by hundreds of thousands of wonderful stories, and sometimes I am unable to find one book that will pull me down the rabbit hole. So I turned to a fellow librarian for advice. I asked for the one book she had read that she just could not get out of her head. Her response was immediate — R.J. Palacio’s Wonder. No hesitation, no thought, no second guessing, she laid Wonder at my feet and I’m so glad she did.
Ten-year-old August Pullman will be starting public school for the first time after being homeschooled his entire life. Auggie happens to have a combination of rare genetic mutations that cause severe facial abnormalities. Because Auggie is so obviously different on the surface it is hard to see that he is just like many other boys his age — intelligent and funny and passionate about Star Wars. Needless to say going to public school will be an adventure filled with friends, enemies, middle school wars, laughter, joy, and pain.
I don’t want to give details of the plot because Wonder is a story about everyday life for someone that happens to be ordinary with an extraordinary face. These details are best appreciated and understood as revealed by Auggie. Wonder weaves together the shifting perspectives of Auggie and his friends and family to reveal the joys and challenges of life with compassion and humor.
Wonder is magic that will pull you in and won’t let go. For me it’s the very best kind of book, one that makes me love being in the rabbit hole, but also able to appreciate the world around me a little more when the story has ended. There will be moments this book will make you cry, but it is worth every teardrop. This is a book that will stay with you for a long, long, long time.
Check the WRL catalog for Wonder
Laura share this review:
Paige is despondent. Her family recently moved from central Virginia to Manhattan and she has to deal with acclimating herself to a new city and culture while her relationships with her parents, especially her mother, have been crumbling. She misses her old life, and her old friends, especially her best friend Diana. Paige floats around New York with a sensation of being lost, unsure of herself or what she wants.
Both her mother and father are writers (hence her unfortunate name, Paige Turner), but she is more like her grandmother, a painter. Introverted and quiet on the outside, Paige is full of life and emotions on the inside. She can’t express these feelings in words so she buys a sketchbook, determined to follow her grandmother’s rules that she came up with to teach herself to be an artist. Starting the first drawing is daunting, and brings to the surface more of her anxieties. Is she a good enough artist, what if she has nothing to draw about? Monologues of self-doubt constantly run through her head, even as the pages begin to fill up with sketches.
Entering her new school, Paige quickly falls in with Jules, her brother Longo, and his friend Gabe. The foursome is soon inseparable. Paige still struggles with self-doubt, and everything cool and fun she sees in her friends strengthens her inferiority complex, and fear that her lack of specialness will be discovered. Her inner voice promises that she can change. But how can she build a new self and remove those parts she dislikes most?
Ever practical, Paige makes a list of those aspects of her personality she dislikes the most and intentionally faces them with the help of her friends. She discovers that they too have things that they lack the courage to face, and she begins to coach them, even as she is developing and evolving herself. The image of a seed being planted and carefully tended to as it grows into a fragile shoot appears several times in the drawings and is particularly apt.
The writing is lyrical and evocative while being relatable to anyone who was unsure of themselves when they were a teenager. Paige has a knack of summing up complicated emotions using simple phrases. She states that “like fun house mirrors, different people reflect back different parts of me” and while mourning her loneliness early on, she states that she hates how all her “friends now live in picture frames.”
Recommend for young adults and graphic novel readers and anyone else who can relate to the heart wrenching process of finding yourself.
Search the catalog for Page by Paige