Category: Fiction

Book review: If You Liked…

By , March 2, 2015

This post is straight recommendations, no commentary.  You’ll just have to trust me!

If you liked The Goldfinch, try Unbecoming, by Rebecca Scherm:

Unbecoming

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you like big sprawling books about families and friendships and class issues, like Middlesex or The Fortress of Solitudetry A Dual Inheritance, by Joanna Hershon:

A Dual Inheritance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you liked the memoirs The Glass Castle or This Boy’s Life, try With or Without You, by Domenica Ruta:

With or Without You

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you liked Olive Kitteridge, try Florence Gordon, by Brian Morton:

Florence Gordon

Book review: The Sweetheart

By , February 24, 2015

The Sweetheart
By Angelina Mirabella

Raise your hand if you ever thought you’d read a fictional book about lady grapplers in the 1950s? Hmm. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

No one?

Yeah, me neither. But then I picked up this beauty and (cue the announcer) got sucked in to the “Story of the Century…ry…ry…ry!”

Ok maybe not the century, but this was definitely a good read. I used to make fun of my brother for watching wrestling. We had epic battles of “You know that’s fake right?” (me) and “No it’s not” (him). But I never knew that women used to wrestle. I thought that was a more recent addition. According to the wonderful wikipedia though, women’s professional wrestling has maintained a World Champion since 1937. That’s a lot of spandex.

Our story follows seventeen year old Leonie Putzkammer and her rapid transformation into The Sweetheart of the Ring. Standing close to six feet tall, Leonie never considered herself beautiful or desireable. But after a chance encounter at a diner (and the execution of the perfect back flip on a dare), Leonie’s dead-end life is over. Suddenly she’s on a train to Joe Popsisil’s School for Lady Grappling where she leaves her old self in the past and becomes the beautiful, the heartbreaking, Gwen Davies.  Leonie/Gwen keeps you rooting for her – even when she’s the bad guy. Nashville makes a cameo appearance because we were and are a proud wrestling city (or so I’m told).

The author does admit that most of the wrestling events were staged – with the winner predetermined before the match. For some reason, though, this didn’t bother me. (Also, to my brother, “Told you so.”) It was just nice to see the big girl win for a change.

So if you think you’re man enough to wrastle a lady, check this one out.

Let’s get ready to rumblllllllllllllllllllllllllleeeeee…er, I mean reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeead!

:) Amanda

Book review: Manifest Destiny volume 1: Flora and Fauna

By , February 22, 2015

Manifest Destiny volume 1: Flora and Fauna
by Chris Dingess and Matthew Roberts

The worst thing about history is its lack of monsters. There are dictators and despots, of course, but when I say monsters I mean MONSTERS–mysterious, possibly hairy and/or scaly creatures of unknown origin, things you run from in the night and hope aren’t lurking under your bed. Unfortunately, the real world is a little low on hairy scary monsters, but that leads us to the best thing about history: you don’t have to let facts get in the way of telling a good story. Manifest Destiny Volume 1: Flora and Fauna, written by Chris Dingess and illustrated by Matthew Roberts, is a comic book that plays fast and loose with history. Dingess and Roberts insert mystery, fantasy, and–best of all–monsters into the real life story of the Lewis and Clark expedition. In this version of events, Meriwether Lewis chronicles President Thomas Jefferson’s hidden objective for the Corps of Discovery: destroying monsters and making the territory safe. Early in their journey, the Corps encounters a structure readers will recognize as the famous Gateway Arch of St. Louis. Here, it’s a massive botanical structure which vexes the explorers and serves as a backdrop for their first encounter with the minotaur-like creatures which inhabit the land. These huge hybrid beasts are part horse, buffalo, and human, and are quickly dispatched by the ninja-like fury of Sacagawea. The danger grows as the explorers push deeper into the territory. Add to this an intelligent fungus which turns people into chlorophyll-spouting zombies and one of the most celebrated episodes in American history becomes an Indiana Jones-style adventure. A case of wooden stakes in the ship’s cargo hold hints at things to come, making volume 2 of this series something to look forward to in 2015. -Jeremy

Book review: The Stars My Destination

By , February 15, 2015

The Stathe-stars-my-destinationrs My Destination

by Alfred Bester

Suppose you were stranded in the scattered, floating remains of a demolished space vessel. Barely surviving by sheer will, hoping for rescue and constantly disappointed, hovering close to death for no less than 170 days…would you begrudge a passing ship that took notice of you but continued on its way? And what would you do about it?

If you’re Gulliver Foyle, a shiftless, illiterate, unmotivated nobody, this act of cruel indifference would galvanize your resourcefulness and finally give your life purpose. This it does for Alfred Bester’s antihero in his 1956 novel The Stars My Destination.

What this classic SF tale may lack in nuanced elegance, it more than makes up for with a headlong plunge into exciting space adventure. Set in the twenty-fifth century, the story employs advanced biotechnology, the presence of telepathy, massive corporate power struggles, a highly secretive and highly dangerous new chemical compound, and the common practice of personal teleportation, a skill uncovered and perfected by the human race over the last century.

Gully Foyle is quite the character, and his vengeful quest is quite the ride. This and The Demolished Man – also good – are generally considered Bester’s most important contributions to the genre, and Stars incorporates a few concepts that became common over the next few decades. While this novel has never received the film treatment, Hollywood is at work on an adaptation of one of Bester’s short stories, “Fondly Fahrenheit”, which can be found in this collection.

Wild and inventive, this is mid-century SF at its best. You’ll be anything but bored, so go ahead and strap in!

- Ben

Book Review: February Salon@615 Edition – Daniel Handler and Samantha Shannon

By , February 7, 2015
The Mime Order

The Mime Order, by Samantha Shannon

The Mime Order is the second book in The Bone Season series (which also happens to be the title of the first book). The books cross several genres, because they focus on a dystopian London, which has been invaded by creatures from another plane of existence with technology far greater than ours, and clairvoyants of many different varieties. The main character in both of these books is a dreamwalker named Paige Mahoney.

In this book, Paige has escaped from the penal colony Sheol I, only to find that she is the most wanted person in London. Her image is plastered all over the television, and her only hope is to return to the mime-lord Jax’s gang of clairvoyants. The other fugitives who escaped with her have it rough, and she does what she can to provide for them and see them. Some have gone missing in the flight from Sheol I.

Paige’s struggle to inform people about the Rephiam who control Sheol I and feed on clairvoyants are hindered by Jax, by disbelief from others, and from her lack of evidence. Paige finds her opportunity to speak to all of the underworld of London when the Underlord is killed. But, will Paige survive being the main suspect in his murder? What happened to Warden after the escape? How will she spread the word about the Rephiam without Jax’s help, and be believed?

Samantha Shannon’s ability to build a world from scratch is positively amazing. The details involved in describing the world in which Paige Mahoney lives are really part of what makes the book for me. This book also combines three genres, which isn’t an easy task. The author is also quite interesting. She was born and raised in West London, studied English Language and Literature at St. Anne’s College in Oxford, and her first book, The Mime Order, was published when she was just 23.

Samantha Shannon will be at the library on Tuesday, February 10th for a Salon @615 event. More details on the Salon Website.

 

We Are Pirates

We Are Pirates, by Daniel Handler

We Are Pirates is a novel for adults written by the same author who wrote the A Series of Unfortunate Events novels for kids, under the name Lemony Snicket. This book was filled with a lot of the same snark that his children’s novels have, but the subject matter is a lot darker. This book is modern fiction, laced with high adventure.

The book is told from the perspective of three characters – one who appears only in the beginning and end without really getting a name, Phil and Gwen. Phil is a radio producer who is struggling to find his next big break. He wants so much more than what his current life offers him, but he fumbles through interactions with other people as if he were off on another planet.

Gwen is Phil’s teenaged daughter. She is incredibly bored with her life, frustrated at the lack of privileges her parents give her, and terribly embarrassed about a burn mark on her leg from a childhood accident. In the beginning of the book, she is caught shoplifting at a local drug store.

Both of these characters seek something more in their lives – adventure, success, true friends, and love. While Phil goes off to present his latest show idea with his young secretary in tow, Gwen gathers together a band of outlaws (including a man from a local senior home who she has been spending time with) to steal a boat and head out on an adventure on the high seas – of San Francisco Bay. If you expect this book to have a happy ending, much like his popular children’s series, you will be horribly disappointed.

Daniel Handler’s book could be considered a commentary on some of the excesses of everyday life. Here we have two characters that have just about everything they need in life, and yet they are bored. They want more. While the book is both humorous and dark, he turns a critical eye on we handle age and how we treat the world around us, and take it for granted.

Daniel Handler will be at the library on February 14th for a Salon @ 615 event. More details on the Salon Website.

Book review: The 1970′s revisited

By , February 2, 2015

Sweet Tooth

Sweet Tooth

by Ian McEwan

Don’t be scared off if spy fiction is not your thing—this is more a coming-of-age story than an espionage thriller. It’s also more accessible than McEwan’s other books. And the cover! Swoon.

 

 

 

Sister Golden Hair

 

Sister Golden Hair

by Darcey Steinke

Oh, wow. This was like time traveling to the ‘70′s. If you liked this, try In Zanesville by Jo Ann Beard or Miss American Pie by Margaret Sartor.

 

 

-Beth

Book List: The 2015 Reading Challenge

By , January 17, 2015

2015 Reading Challenge

 

Since New Year’s is all about making resolutions, I think one of the best resolutions a reader can make is to diversify what they read throughout the year.

That being said, POPSUGAR has created a 2015 Reading Challenge, check out their post and see the POPSUGAR list. They even offer a handy printable version, which you can hang up on your desk or near your favorite reading spot to keep track of the books that you have already read.

Here are a few highlights of the list, plus a few suggestions (from my list) about what to read for them:

A book with more than 500 pages -

Words of Radiance, by Brandon Sanderson

Words of Radiance

The second book in the Stormlight Archives, Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson, doubles this page count! I’m really hoping to getting around to reading it this year, before the third one comes out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A book your mom loves -

The Other Boleyn Girl, by Philippa Gregory

The Other Boleyn Girl

My mom is a huge fan of historical fiction, so for this one, I’ve picked The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory. I know this is one of her favorites!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A book that made you cry -

Imajica, by Clive Barker

Imajica

Clive Barker has always had such beautiful imagery in his works, and Imajica has several moments throughout that usually have me reaching for a tissue or three.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A memoir -

As You Wish, by Cary Elwes

As You Wish

I think this counts, right? It’s one of my favorite movies of all time, and Cary Elwes sits down to tell us behind-the-scenes stories you haven’t heard before in As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A book with antonyms in the title -

Memory and Dream, by Charles de Lint

Memory and Dream

Trying to figure out what to read for this one was a bit of a tough choice, but I’ve been putting off reading Charles de Lint for a while. For this one, I’m going with Memory and Dream. Don’t worry! There are a ton of possibilities for this challenge.

 

 

Check Out the List

If you want to find a more complete list of my suggestions, check out the list on the library website here: 2015 Reading Challenge

Book review: My sunshine away

By , January 16, 2015

My sunshine away
by M.O. Walsh

To every Read, there is a season. A time to sneak an hour beside an open window in early April, a time to risk sand filled pages in late July and a purpose to every plot conceived by any self-respecting author.

My sunshine away is such a read. It begs to be read in early summer. Do not, I repeat, do not succumb to the glowing reviews of this title set for release in February. If you worship at the altar of contemporary Southern fiction, and I mean the good stuff…not the whiny, cheap, “it’s a hoot” junk that tries to pass itself off as the real deal, this one is worth the wait.

Milton O’Neal Walsh has crafted a treasure. It has all the right bits and pieces that would fall into a pile of worthless clutter with a lesser author. Set in Baton Rouge 1989, featuring golden girl Lindy Simpson, a neighborhood crime, a cast of suspects….all the elements needed to create a new Southern classic. And you know the good stuff is worth waiting for.

-laurie

“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.”            – Oscar Wilde

Book review: Breathless Trilogy

By , January 15, 2015

Rush by Maya BanksRush (Breathless Trilogy Volume 1)
by Maya Banks

Have you recently read certain romance novels and wondered what it would be like to read steamy romance that’s actually been edited and written for adults? If you answered, “Yes!” then Maya Banks is your woman!

Because the film version of 50 Shades of Grey will be upon us this Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be fun to talk about other titles within the genre. I recommend the first novel in Ms. Banks’ Breathless trilogy, called Rush. This book is the most similar book to the 50 Shades books—yes, I’ve read them the 50 Shades trilogy. There’s a pretty young girl named Mia, who is chased by the rich and ravenous Gabe. Who happens to be her brother’s best friend, and one of the people who helped take care of her when she was younger…at least they know each other?

The book opens with Mia alone at a party hosted by her brother, and his two best friends. They have a prosperous consulting firm. Gabe walks in, and his heart immediately skips a beat because little Mia isn’t so little anymore – she’s about 22 years old. We know from the jump that Gabe’s been crushing on Mia for a while and feels angst ridden because of it. But why, one may ask? Well, Gabe and his friends are bad boys. How bad? Well, think Christian Grey without the mommy issues.

The two main conflicts are: 1) Gabe is trying to hide his relationship with Mia from his besties, Jace (Mia’s brother) and Ash because he fears that they wouldn’t approve; 2) Gabe approaches relationships like Christian Grey—“Here, sign this contract!” He doesn’t want to admit that he’s in love with Mia, and he doesn’t think their relationship can work on a long-term basis.

Mia is Anastasia with some back bone. She has no problem telling off the man she loves when he does something she isn’t happy with. She also has a legitimate connection with Gabe due to the fact they’ve known each other for years. She is also of this world. She’s had enough life experience to understand in general terms what Gabe is into, and to make some demands of him. However, like her counterpart, there are moments where you want to go, “What!?” This reaction will probably happen to you, at least once, in every book in the Breathless trilogy. For instance, Gabe knows full well that Mia is only generally familiar with his proclivities, but just jumps right into it without much thought. Jace doesn’t think too hard about the people he associates with which almost gets his sister and several others hurt. Ash seems to be the only sane one, until he starts telling his girlfriend stuff that no partner should ever tell the other!

The books are explicit so if that is not your thing they are not for you. But if you are looking for a grown up romance that is better than 50 Shades but still easy to read and entertaining – Maya Banks’ Breathless trilogy is for you.

Fever by Maya Banks           Burn by Maya Banks           

- Sade

TV series review: Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries

By , January 9, 2015

Miss FisherMiss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.
Starring Essie Davis as Phryne Fisher.
Based on the novels of Kerry Greenwood.

I wasn’t looking for a new crime series to binge watch when I recently came across Miss Fisher, but hours later I found my chores undone, my book club book unread, and my cat staring longingly at her empty food bowlMiss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries has it all:  it’s cozy enough to appeal to fans of gentler mysteries, but it doesn’t shy away from serious issues like class, racial discrimination, and women’s rights. The tone of the series can be a little bit dark at times, with lots of funny, clever, and sexy bits in between.  By the end of each episode, Miss Fisher always solves her case, all while dressed impeccably I might add.

If you’re like me and aren’t familiar with Kerry Greenwood’s novels, her heroine Miss Phryne (pronounced Fry-Knee) Fisher is a thoroughly modern and independently wealthy woman living in 1920s Melbourne, Australia.  Phryne has quite a knack for solving mysteries and becomes a private detective.  She is dismissed by the local police leader Inspector Jack Robinson as a nosy pest, but sooner than later Robinson realizes how valuable her skills of deduction can be.  Phryne’s little sister was kidnapped and murdered when they were kids.  Her killer is in prison, but has never admitted to the crime, nor revealed where her body is buried.

I do feel guilty not having read any of the Miss Fisher novels before watching series one, but I plan to remedy that before moving to series two.  A third series has been commissioned so we have more episodes to look for in the future.  Essie Davis, whose name is gaining notoriety after starring in the 2014 horror film The Babadook, is absolutely superb as Miss Fisher.  The supporting cast is excellent as well.  And the historic setting of Melbourne is so much fun to experience.  There’s only one thing left to say – watch it and I guarantee you’ll be entertained!

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