This was a lovely book to spend an afternoon reading. I was sorry to leave the small English town where Cleo and her friends live. Nicely woven plot lines kept the story amusing and moving between the main characters.
Cleo is pretty happy with her lot in life. She has an interesting job as a chauffeur and has recently started seeing Will, who is showing potential of being “The One” for her. He has a good job, is good looking, and best of all, came to a funeral so she could show up the boy who tormented her all through school. You’d think after 13 years the resentment would fade, but Johnny LaVentura just pushes all her buttons the wrong way. It doesn’t help that Johnny is now a famous sculptor and dates super-models.
Unfortunately, Will turns out to be much less than she had hoped. His wife, Fia, didn’t think he was all that great either—after finding out about the affair! Despite the odds, Cleo and Fia become friends. And it turns out that Johnny isn’t so bad either…
Then there’s Cleo’s sister, Abbie. Her world is turned upside down when she finds out that her husband fathered a child many years ago. Georgia is now a young woman wanting to develop a relationship with her dad—and Abbie feels like a third wheel in her own home.
The conflicts are nicely resolved by the end of the book. And there’s plenty of happily ever after to put a smile on your face!
Check the WRL catalog for Take a Chance on Me.
This book is for anyone who has experienced a child’s consuming love of a favorite color. Little Annie love, love, loves purple. Her latest must have is a lovely purple hat. The emotional elements in this book make it an endearing story. It is perfect for children who are learning to understand longing and disappointment. The young reader will relate to Annie’s loss
and everyone’s desire to help her feel better. Of course the best emotion of all is Annie’s joy in the surprise ending of this sweet story.
Check the WRL catalog for The Purple Hat.
Three’s the charm for the novella-length short stories in this young adult collection, centered around three kisses. Some kisses are promises and some are threats; some could make you lose your soul, and others might help you get it back again.
In “Goblin Fruit,” the handsome new boy in school has eyes only for Kizzy, which would be a good thing, if he were human. (Kizzy ought to know better: her grandmother gave her a stiletto for occasions just like this.) A contemporary take on Christina Rossetti’s creepy poem, “Goblin Market,” which you certainly don’t need to know to enjoy it, this story ends in an unsettling place… or makes you want to start writing the next chapter.
“Spicy Little Curses Such as These,” set in India at the height of the British empire, was my favorite of the three stories. An elderly woman, “with a stare that could shoot laughter from the air like game birds,” serves as an ambassador to hell, taking tea with demons to ransom souls back to the living. (I notice that most summaries of this story focus on the beautiful young girl, cursed with silence lest she kill anyone who hears her voice, and the young man who falls in love with her. But young couples in love always get the headlines. Old ladies who take tea in hell: that’s what I’m talking about.)
In “Hatchling,” a brown-eyed girl wakes up with one blue eye and her mother freaks. Taylor unfurls the story of the mother’s past in a fantastically-detailed mountain eyrie court, ruled by a heartless queen who keeps children as pets and feeds her cats to bridge trolls. This involving story is something like watching Narnia’s White Witch get a second chance.
Taylor’s prose is lushly descriptive, but among her poetic similes are also short, pointed, painful sentences, like thorns among roses. She’s a fantastic storyteller. Readers of folk and fairy tales will recognize elements of Orpheus, Sleeping Beauty, Andersen’s Little Mermaid and other motifs. These stories incline to the darker side, full of blood and menace, and will appeal to older teens. Each of the stories is introduced by a wordless mini-graphic-novel by illustrator Jim Di Bartolo, setting the scene in fine gothic style.
Check the WRL catalog for Lips Touch: Three Times.
The 1930s crime fiction of Friedrich Glauser seems to me to be the dark bedrock from which the immensely popular body of Scandinavian crime fiction springs. In four years, Glauser, a depressive, morphine-addicted writer, who was once committed to an insane asylum, and who died at the age of forty two, published five detective novels featuring the Swiss Sergeant Studer.
Now being published for the first time in English by Bitter Lemon Press, Glauser’s novels will appeal to a wide range of crime fiction readers. Glauser is often referred to as the “Swiss Simenon,” and like Simenon, his novels focus more on the psychology of both the detective and the criminal than on fast-paced action. There is a lot of talking here, and the Austrian-born Swiss Glauser seems to share an interest in psychology with his compatriots, Freud and Jung. It is through conversation that Sgt. Studer most frequently comes to the solution of the crime. Glauser’s novels explore the dark side of human nature as it is played out in families, schools, and in one case, an asylum.
Glauser also shares with Simenon an interest in food, and there is a lot of eating and drinking going on in these stories. Sgt. Studer is a fascinating character. Once a promising detective, Studer was somehow compromised in a bank investigation, and his career was derailed. He now finds himself a pariah to most of his colleagues and supervisors, and he is the man who is sent out on hopeless cases. While Studer is not always quick to see connections, his relentlessness and his commitment to the truth eventually lead him to the solution.
Fans of Simenon should find these novels interesting, but they will also appeal to readers who enjoy more contemporary Scandinavian crime fiction. Thumbprint is a good starting point for exploring this forgotten master of police fiction.
Check the WRL catalog for Thumbprint.
This story begins with one little bee minding its own business. When he discovers a brown bear is following him, he knows it will be trouble. I thought of the book Rosie’s Walk while enjoying the antics of brown bear. He soon has a following of animals with their own agendas. When yellow bee arrives home, things become very interesting for brown bear and company. Readers will enjoy the comical animal and nature pictures in this book. Young children will love the onomatopoeiac element as well.
Check the WRL catalog for Where There’s a Bear, There’s Trouble!
Those six words were all it took to bump this science fiction debut to the top of my list. Also, although I try not to read detailed reviews of books until I’ve finished them myself, I couldn’t help but notice that the reviews I wasn’t reading had lots of ALL CAPS and exclamation marks.
So, One Esk—sometimes she calls herself Breq—used to be a ship. The narrator of this twisty space opera is an ancillary: one body, one segment, of a twenty-bodied corps of soldiers that share a single consciousness, tied into the artificial intelligence of an orbiting warship. Her life as a troop carrier, the Justice of Toren, unfolds in flashbacks to the military government of the latest planet annexed by the Radchaii empire and the events that provoke One Esk’s present-day mission of single-minded, and single-bodied, revenge. Who is she now, without her ship or a captain or the other 19 ancillaries, and what is she up to on a frozen backwater planet, following her own agenda?
The narrator’s unusual point of view(s), sometimes individual, sometimes corporate, is (are) the first cool thing about this book. Like a janissary, One Esk serves now in the military of the empire that conquered her people. Her body(ies) are human, but her awareness is not; she judges human emotions by temperature and heartbeat fluctuations and has a lot of trouble figuring out gender. The second cool thing about this book is trying to figure out who is actually male or female and who is referred to as “she” just because One Esk doesn’t feel like dealing with pronouns.
For all her dispassionate narration and history of shooting people, One Esk is a thoughtful and sympathetic character. Deliberately paced and well worth the attention you have to pay, her story reminded me strongly of Iain M. Banks’ Culture novels. Leckie creates a fascinating universe, layered with convincing details of different cultures, classes, and religions, and leaving plenty of big ideas to play with in the next books of what is planned to be a loose trilogy.
Check the WRL catalog for Ancillary Justice.
You can read the first chapter online at Orbit Books.
Michael has experienced a lot of stressful changes. His sister was born prematurely. Although she was released from the hospital, she isn’t doing well at home. Everyone is worried about her health, which doesn’t leave a lot of time for Michael. Additionally the family has recently moved to a new house, which needs a lot of work. Once his dad gets a chance to get the rooms painted and the garden cleaned up, it should be great for their growing family. But now… all Michael can think about is how far away he is from his friends.
One of the features of the property is a dilapidated garage that Michael is not supposed to go near for fear it will collapse—but of course, he does. There he discovers a strange-looking old man hiding behind a tea chest in the corner. Michael is scared, but instead of telling an adult about his discovery, he goes back a second time to get a better look. Then a third time to bring the man food and aspirin. At last he decides to confide in his neighbor, Mina, and brings her to meet Skellig.
As Michael’s sister returns to the hospital for another surgery, he and Mina move Skellig to a safer place. They agree that he is an extraordinary being, but is he a man, angel, owl or ghost? And is there any chance he can save Michael’s sister?
I found this to be a great story about friendship for all ages. Mina is wise beyond her years and the lessons in the book will stick with me for a long time.
Check the WRL catalog for Skellig
Almond also recently released Mina’s story in My Name is Mina.
If I say that this young adult novel was on my radar because the cover was designed by Gingerhaze, who I follow on Tumblr, because someone linked me to her fanart for Avengers and Lord of the Rings… then I guess it’s safe to say I’m a fangirl. And I’m not alone!
Cath is a college freshman and an extreme introvert. Her first year at university is complicated by the fact that she’s generally more comfortable with her laptop, sitting up until the wee hours of the morning writing fanfiction, than with actual people. Online, she’s a BNF, a Big Name Fan, the author of an epic work-in-progress set in the World of Mages, a thinly-veiled homage to the Harry Potter-verse, if Draco Malfoy were a vampire, or maybe Loki went to Hogwarts. In “real” life, she’s worried about her dad’s mental health, increasingly estranged from her more outgoing, frat-partying twin, and she suspects her roommate hates her. And her fanfiction about mages Simon and Baz isn’t going to help her through writing class, where she’s supposed to find a narrative voice of her own.
Author Rainbow Rowell is having a good year: both Fangirl and her other 2013 novel, Eleanor and Park, are on “best of the year” lists for teens at Amazon and the New York Times. As in Eleanor and Park, Rowell writes with empathy for a wide range of characters. I particularly liked Cath’s roommate, who is abrasive and sarcastic and still a good friend. Hanger-about Levi is a welcome contrast to high-strung Cath, having perfected the art of being laid back. (“He looked like he was leaning on something even when he wasn’t. He made standing look like vertical lying down.”)
As a bonus, it cheered me to see the love for Harry Potter still percolating through pop culture a generation later. Reading about Cath’s fannish enthusiasms brought back fond memories of the midnight release for Book 8. This is a light, quick read with a sweet romance (a much sweeter and easier romance than in Eleanor and Park). Readers who enjoy books by John Green or Sarah Dessen should give it a try.
Check the WRL catalog for Fangirl.
It’s Christmastime in New York City, and both Dash and Lily are spending the holiday without their families. Being a bit of a Scrooge, Dash is on his own by choice, as he tricked each of his divorced parents into believing he is spending Christmas with the other parent. Lily, however, loves everything about Christmas. She was left at home with her older brother (who is at first too busy to be festive, and then too sick) while her parents and grandfather vacation in warmer climates.
Needing something to occupy her time, Lily leaves a red Moleskin notebook in the Salinger section of the Strand, a used bookstore. The notebook contains instructions for the finder to follow, if he is a teenage boy, with clues leading around the store and perhaps into Lily’s heart. Dash finds the notebook and, after following Lily’s clues, decides to continue the game. Rather than leaving his phone number for Lily to find, he leaves instructions to travel to a nearby pizzeria.
The game continues past Christmas and into New Year’s as Lily and Dash send each other to a variety of well-known New York locations. They use the notebook not only to leave each other clues, but to get to know one another. They write about how they are spending the holidays, what they want for Christmas (“No, really, don’t be a smart aleck. What do you really really really supercalifragiwant?”), and their best and worst Christmas memories. They do hit some roadblocks along the way, such as when Lily misses her opportunity to pass the book on to Dash and when they unexpectedly meet under less than ideal circumstances. But surely everything must come out alright in the end, right? After all, it is Christmas.
Check the WRL catalog for Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares.
Neil Numberman does a terrific job with his debut picture book, Do Not Build a Frankenstein! In this tale, a new kid gathers up the local children to warn them of the perils of building a Frankenstein, and the largest peril is that the Frankenstein is “pretty annoying.” Once the Frankenstein says he is going away, the narrator hurries to a new town to warn his peers, but at the very end, someone big and green shows up to play monster tag.
Upper-elementary children will enjoy this silly story and bright illustrations. This is also a good book to read if they have a friend who wants to play all of the time, because they may be able to relate to the narrator. Numberman writes, “Even when you try to ignore him, he keeps bothering you. ‘Can we play now?’” This unique monster story does not need to be saved for Halloween, but should be enjoyed any time of year.
Check the WRL catalog for Do Not Build a Frankenstein!
“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.
You can read the first chapter online at the author’s Tumblr.
Van Eyck’s Ghent Altarpiece, painted to adorn the altar of a Belgian cathedral in the 1400s, is the most frequently stolen painting in the history of art. This is an especially neat trick considering it weighs around two tons.
Opened only on special occasions, the wood panels of the altarpiece portray a host of saints, martyrs, angels, and patrons, a showpiece for the kind of minute detail the layering of newfangled oil paints could achieve, and a transition from the art of the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. Its central panel, a cryptic, symbolic scene called the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, furnishes the title of this fast-paced, entertaining art history read.
Art historian Noah Charney describes the painting’s 500-plus-year history to great effect, incorporating the little we know about Van Eyck along with art criticism, war stories, true crime, artists who may have been secret agents, and enough farfetched but entertaining conspiracy theories to fuel Dan Brown’s next novel. From Napoleon to the Treaty of Versailles to the salt mines of Alt Aussee, Charney describes how bits and pieces of the altarpiece have been looted, defaced, confiscated, stolen, ransomed, and coveted by Nazis. Is the painting also a coded map to lost Catholic treasures, studied by Hitler’s Ahnenerbe for its clues to finding supernatural weaponry? Cue the Raiders of the Lost Ark music…
If you’ve read Robert Edsel’s Monuments Men, the chapters detailing the painting’s WWII history will be quite familiar (actually, I think Charney tells the story a little better). Officers Posey and Kirstein, an unlikely duo from the Army’s Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives unit careen around the Austrian Alps in search of a treasure trove of paintings looted from throughout Europe, including the Altarpiece, while SS officers caught in the last days of a lost war are bringing in aircraft bombs to blow these same paintings to kingdom come…
And then there’s the mystery of the Righteous Judges, a long-missing panel that may have been replaced with a copy… or by a copy painted over the original in a diabolically byzantine plot to disguise the return of the panel without admitting to its theft in the first place. Unsolved to this day, this cold case comes complete with ransom notes and deathbed confessions: “armoire… key… [dies].”
Like Edward Dolnick’s The Forger’s Spell, this is a fascinating read for folks who are interested in the intersection of art and war.
Check the WRL catalog for Stealing the Mystic Lamb.
This timeless story by the author of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and If You Give a Moose a Muffin, is all about chain reactions. Readers follow pig and the little girl narrating the story from a breakfast of pancakes and syrup to tap dancing and tree house building. The narrator grants the pig’s every request until they end up with the pig enjoying more pancakes and syrup and the little girl asleep at the table. Elementary-aged children will enjoy the circular story, and Felicia Bond’s illustrations are bright and playful.
Children will like inferring the ending. Laura Numeroff writes, “Feeling sticky will remind her of your favorite maple syrup. She’ll probably ask you for some. And chances are, if she asks you for some syrup, she’ll want a pancake to go with it.” If you like If You Give a Pig a Pancake, check out If You Give a Pig a Party for more of pig’s shenanigans.
Check the WRL catalog for If You Give a Pig a Pancake.
This is a great set of wintery short stories. Set at Christmas, during the worst snowstorm in fifty years, these stories are as light and fluffy as the snow itself. John Green, author of Paper Towns (another great book), Maureen Johnson, author of 13 Little Blue Envelopes, and Lauren Myracle, author of Bliss and Rhymes with Witches (which I also enjoyed) offer three short stories with overlapping settings, characters, and events.
In “Jubilee Express”, a Christmas Eve train derailment leads Jubliee (“Julie” when she doesn’t feel like explaining her name) to take a harrowing trek through the snow to find shelter at a nearby Waffle House. The presence of fourteen over-enthusiastic, over-caffeinated cheerleaders in the Waffle House prompts her to trudge through even more snow and across a frozen river to find shelter at the home of her new friend, Stuart. She may well not make it through the holiday alive, and all because her parents were arrested while waiting in line to buy the latest limited edition house for their Flobie Santa Village collection.
In “A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle,” the presence of the aforementioned cheerleaders at the Waffle House results in a race through the ice and snow to deliver a game of Twister. Friends Tobin, JP, and the Duke (real name – Angie) were enjoying an evening of James Bond movies, when their plans for Christmas Eve changed. Waffle House employee Don-Keun makes a late night call to Tobin’s house and makes the following announcement:
“The greatest night of my life has just begun. And I am inviting you to join me, because I am the best friend ever. But here’s the catch: after I get off the phone with you, Mitchell and Billy will be calling their friends. And we’ve agreed in advance that there’s only room here for one more carful of guys. I cannot further dilute the cheerleader-to-guy ratio. Now, I am making the first call, because I’m acting assistant manager. So you have a head start. I know you will not fail. I know I can count on you to deliver the Twister. Gentlemen, may you travel safely and swiftly. But if you die tonight, die in the comfort that you have sacrificed your lives for that noblest of human causes. The pursuit of cheerleaders.”
Tobin and JP manage to persuade the Duke to accompany them with the promise of hash browns, as the Duke is a girl, and therefore not particularly interested in seeing cheerleaders. But the night doesn’t quite go as expected.
In “The Patron Saint of Pigs,” it’s the day after Christmas, and Addie reports to work at Starbucks at 4:30 am. She’s been miserable since Christmas Eve, when her boyfriend Jeb failed to meet her at the coffee shop. His absence sends a clear message; he doesn’t forgive her for the “Charlie Thing.” To make matters worse, the sink breaks and causes a flood, she forgets a very important errand she was supposed to run for a friend, and another friend accuses her of being completely self-involved. Not a very Merry Christmas. Luckily, Addie has a Christmas angel who changes her perspective on the universe, and the day begins to look up.
Check the WRL catalog for Let it Snow: Three Holiday Romances.
Only, the earth is going to be struck by an asteroid in six months, and everything in his investigation is colored by that fact, beginning with the question “why bother?” Does it matter if a guy hanged himself or was murdered, if everyone is likely to be dead before the year is out? Well, if you’re Hank Palace, of the Concord, N.H. Police Department: Yes. Palace does the job because that’s his job.
He’s only been a detective for 3 ½ months, promoted young because all the seasoned detectives are retiring early or disappearing without notice. Ever since the projected impact of asteroid Maia became a certainty, everyone on the planet is confronting mortality at the same time and in their own ways. The market has collapsed; some folks run pirate black-market restaurants out of abandoned McDonald’s. Workers everywhere are abandoning their jobs to pursue lifelong “bucket lists,” or just hanging themselves. (The public library, of course, responds with a display of books to read before you die.)
But while the infrastructure collapses around him, Hank Palace is pursuing leads, in coat and tie, taking notes in actual blue books like the kind you used for college exams. The only person who can distract him from his singleminded investigation is his somewhat loony younger sister, whose boyfriend has vanished while trying to expose a government coverup.
I love characters like Palace: Philip Marlowe. Sam Vimes. “You’re a policeman through and through…” says one of his interviewees. “You’ll be standing there when the asteroid comes down, with one hand out, yelling, Stop! Police!”
The Last Policeman won a 2013 Edgar award for best paperback original mystery. Although there isn’t time left to carry Palace’s story much farther, there are two more books coming in the trilogy, starting with the sequel, Countdown City.
Check the WRL catalog for The Last Policeman.
Karou is just like any other 17 year-old girl. She goes to school. She hangs out with her friends whenever she’s free from work. She’s recovering from the heartbreak of first love. But Karou is also different as much as she is the same. Her blue hair isn’t just a dye job, it grows from her head that way. Karou attends art school in Prague and hangs with her friends at the Poison Kitchen, a place known for its WWI gas masks and tables made from coffins. As for her first love, she’s getting over him even though he keeps trying to win her back by jumping from the shadows pretending to be, what else, a vampire.
As for her parents, well that’s where things get interesting. Karou doesn’t exactly have parents, she has the Chimaeras. Brimstone is larger than life with rams’ horns and the ass of a lion. Issa is apparently a Victoria’s Secret model on top but her bottom half is a little cold-blooded, being mostly serpent. Twiga has trouble with low ceilings, having the neck of a giraffe and Yasri might snap with her sharp beak. Not the kind of family you bring your friends home to meet. But the Chimaeras are the only family Karou has known and she loves them and works for them gathering teeth from all over the world using portals to move from city to city…
By this point, I hope you’re at least a little intrigued by Karou because I certainly was and am glad I opened the pages to this wonderfully fantastic and lyrical novel. With its old world aura, Prague’s atmosphere suggests that any shadowy doorway may open to an unknown and unexplored world. Adding to Prague’s mystery, and layering her story, Taylor’s exquisite writing and turn of phrase draws the reader in with her expressive style, flashes of humor, and empathy. It is easy to get lost in the pages and wake up Elsewhere… Whether in our world or another, it’s always important to find acceptance and make your own place. This book is followed up by Days of Blood & Starlight.
Check the WRL catalog for Daughter of Smoke & Bone
LOVED this book by Linda Barnes! It’s the first I’ve read by this author who has 16 previous novels, including the Carlotta Carlyle mysteries. You can be sure I’m checking to see what else the library has by her.
Em Moore is the silent, timid-but-talented writing half of a biography team. Her partner, Ted, is the charismatic, outgoing personality who handles the interviews and book publicity.
When Teddy dies in a car accident, Em needs to suck up her courage and convince her agent that she can handle finishing their current project, a biography of film director Garrett Malcolm. We are led to believe that Em needs the money, and she’ll face her fears of being in public and talking to strangers in order to keep the advance on the book.
Barnes does a fantastic job in having me feel sorry for “poor Em” all the way through the book. She has to travel to Cape Cod on her own, and the only way she makes it out of her apartment is to pretend there is a bubble protecting her from the outside world. Her first meeting with Malcolm had me cringing — his assistant is patronizing and keeps her waiting long after her appointed meeting time. Malcolm himself is self-important and intimidating. And then there’s the police detective investigating Teddy’s death. Em avoids his phone calls because she just can’t deal with one more thing on her plate.
Em has small successes facing her fears, that include surviving a confrontation with Teddy’s wife and recovering interview tapes that Teddy hadn’t sent her. And as unlikely as it seems, she and Malcolm hit it off. They begin an affair, and she is able to start writing the book in the comfort of his large Cape Cod mansion. And that’s when the story of this famous director and the tragedies in his life start to come together. All is not as it seems on the surface, however, and Em keeps digging to figure out what happened all those years ago to Malcolm and his family — and what exactly Teddy was working on before his death.
Engaging writing, clever plot twists — a recipe for a book I just couldn’t put down!
Check the WRL catalog for The Perfect Ghost
Woolbur is a delightful picture book that celebrates the joy of being unique. In this story Woolbur is a sheep that is not afraid to be different and likes to do things his own way. Woolbur likes to run with the dogs instead of staying with the herd. While the other sheep are getting sheared he runs away. Wool bur’s parents pull on their wool all night worrying. When they point out to Woolbur that he is different he replies, “I know… isn’t it great?” Woolbur’s grandpa tries to reassure his parents he will be fine. They insist Woolbur act like the other sheep. Woolbur thinks about this all night long and comes up with a perfect plan. He teaches all the other sheep to be just like him. Leslie Helakoski has written a humorous story with an important message … it’s okay to be different. Lee Harper’s illustrations are charming and capture the true spirit of Woolbur. Ideal read aloud for children ages 3 to 7.
Check the WRL catalog for Woolbur.
After “the Decline,” religions are licensed and monitored; there is an entire unit of government that is responsible for investigating supernatural claims and making sure that no faith-based movement gets a powerful following.
Justin March was a successful government investigator who saw something he couldn’t explain, except through unwelcome words that hinted of a higher power. He included his experiences in a formal report, then was exiled from The Republic of United North America (RUNA) to technology-starved Panama. He desperately wants to return home, but has no clue as to how to get back in the government’s good graces.
Mae Koskinen is a praetorian, an elite, enhanced soldier of RUNA who is reassigned from her usual security duty following an unfortunate incident at the funeral of her lover. Her new assignment is to help bring an exile back to RUNA for a special case. Of course, that exile is Justin March.
Justin and Mae are given a limited amount of time to investigate a series of five ritualistic murders. Despite the efforts of the best technicians to explain the situation with science, it looks like someone materialized out of smoke and killed unrelated victims. Justin’s skill and his willingness to explore the supernatural possibilities make him the perfect person to lead the investigation. In the course of the investigation, Justin and Mae develop a grudging respect for one another.
There are a lot of elements to keep your attention in this book: the hints of what happened to cause this anti-religion environment, the supernatural involvement of gods in the mortal world, the back-story of the main characters, and the developing relationship between Mae and Justin. I must say it took me a little while to get hooked, but when I did I couldn’t put the book down.
If you want everything tied neatly together at the end, don’t start this book yet. The mystery of the serial murders is solved, but there are many issues left hanging – you’ll just need to keep reading the “Age of X” series to understand it all. Next in the series is The Immortal Crown due out in May, 2014.
Check the WRL catalog for Gameboard of the Gods
After a brief introduction where she argues, “Geek is the new cool,” Simon breaks down girl geekdom into several categories: Fangirl, Literary, Film, Music, Funny-Girl, Domestic Goddess, and Miscellaneous Geek.
Each chapter highlights broad characteristics of the category of geekdom with a brief history, quizzes to assess your geekiness, short bios of important figures (called Geek Goddesses), and must-see websites and books/films/television shows/music to be a true master of your passion.
For the geek wannabe, it gives a great starting point to understanding the canon of the geekdom. For those that are already immersed, it’s a fun way to compare what you know with Simon’s research.
There’s also a very funny section on “Frenemies” – a brief list of characteristics to watch out for that identify the posers against the true geeks. You’ll want to make sure you aren’t making any of these faux pas!
This book came out in 2011, so I’m a little worried that as years go by, the references will be less timely, and the links to other resources will stop working. I hope Simon is working on updating the book…
Whether you read it from cover to cover, or just dip into your favorite obsession, embrace your geekiness and read this book, I think you’ll walk away with a good feeling.
Check the WRL catalog for Geek Girls Unite