Monday, May 22, 2017

Marlena


A well-written first novel about two girls who find and then lose each other. Although this is a familiar plot, good girl meets bad girl who changes her life, Buntin makes it fresh and new. The setting is northern Michigan, in a bitterly cold and harshly poor small town. People there seem in a downward spiral, and drug and alcohol use are rampant. It's a dreary picture, and although we know right up front how things end (badly), Buntin carefully and patiently draws us through the story, flipping between Cat's adult, present day New York and her teenage past in Michigan. It's really shocking the kind of life her friend Marlena finds herself stuck in, but sadly it's probably not unusual. Drugs and poverty do battle with people's souls, and more times than not, the souls lose. Cat herself does not emerge unharmed, but by the end we can see how hard she's trying. Highly recommended for readers who don't mind darkness in their books. 

Kelly Currie

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Underground Fugue by Margot Singer

In a London neighborhood, the lives of four characters quickly become entangled over a few months in 2005. Esther has fled her marriage and life in New York to care for her mother, Lonia, as she battles cancer. As the disease takes hold, Lonia begins to spend more and more of her time in a dream-like state, remembering her escape from Czechoslovakia at the beginning of WWII. Next door is Javad Asghari, a neurosurgeon who fled Iran as a young man to escape the ayatollah’s fundamentalist regime. Javad’s 19-year-old son Amir is a college student struggling to find himself and reconcile his Iranian heritage and British upbringing. Over the long summer Esther and Javad form a friendship that has a possibility of blossoming into romance. When the London Underground is bombed by Islamic fundamentalists, Esther must make a decision that will change her, Javad, and Amir’s lives forever. 

A musical fugue is a piece of music where a musical theme is repeated or imitated throughout the piece by multiple voices, with the parts building onto and weaving in and out of sync with one another. In psychology, a fugue is a dissociation or loss of the self. In her debut novel, Margot Singer masterfully reflects both definitions in one unforgettable story. The fugue theme is prevalent throughout without feeling heavy-handed or forced. It is easy to see the differences among these four characters, and yet their lives are often reflections of one another’s. With plenty of tension and intrigue, Underground Fugue is a stark look at loneliness and isolation that reads like a thriller.

-Portia Kapraun

Saturday, April 29, 2017

The Confessions of Young Nero by Margaret George




Nero is known for being ruthless, murderous, and a man who indulged in every sensual pleasure.  In Margaret George's book, The Confessions of Young Nero, she writes about a different side of Nero.  A lonely boy who was almost murdered by his uncle, has a love for music and arts, and becomes a devoted husband and father.

Growing up in a household of scandal, plot, and unexplained deaths was not easy for young Nero nor did he understand it until he grew to be a young man. He asked his mother, after she killed her husband, how she could do such a thing and she told him one does not grow up to be a murderer, it just happens.
Later, when his mother plotted to kill him, Acte, a slave, saved him from this egregious crime. This complicated story of love, passion, fear, and guilt will give you an understanding of why Nero became the most notorious ruler of all time. Was it for love, the fear of being killed, or the fear of being hated by the people?  Read it to find out you will not be disappointed.

~Dani Green

Friday, April 28, 2017

Rot and Ruin by Johnathan Maberry

Zombie stories have never been appealing to me but I have had a few patrons recommend this series to me and was ready to give it a try. Pleasantly surprised from the start, this story is filled with action, adventure and emotion that I did not expect. Some stories that I have tried to read before that involved zombies had a confusing premise and did not explain how the zombies came to be or how the world has changed, but this story did not leave me confused. I enjoyed the plot, characters, setting and world-building. If you like books that are intense, fast-paced, and slightly scary, Rot and Ruin would be a good series to engage in.

This book can be categorized as post-apocalyptic and features a future America where zombies have taken over most of the country and roam free. The setting is a small town that has been able to keep zombies out since First Night, when the zombie invasion started. Benny Imura is a teenager who has reached the age where he needs to choose a profession and begin working. He tries out many different positions and is unhappy with them all and decides he will try to train with his brother, who is a bounty hunter. The position of bounty hunter is much different than what we are familiar with, in Bennys world it means finding loved ones who were turned into zombies and killing them humanely for their loved ones who have not been infected. Nobody wants to imagine their family or friends forever roaming as a zombie in the Rot and Ruin outside of town.

Benny has not gotten along with his brother Tom for most of his life, even though Tom has raised him since he was orphaned during First Night. Tom is my favorite character in this story and I immediately fell in love with him and his mysterious, talented, and kind-hearted ways. Although Benny could be annoying at times, I still enjoyed his character and was rooting for him to succeed but can he handle being a bounty hunter? Would he survive out in the Ruin where zombies run free? Full of action, adventure, and intense scenes, this book will captivate you until the end where you will need to have tissues handy. Come pick up this book from the Teen section today!

-Lauren

Friday, April 21, 2017

File Under: 13 Suspicious Incidents

If you or your children have read Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, then you probably know it was recently adapted into a series on Netflix. Having been a fan of the series throughout my middle school years, I couldn't wait to watch the entire first season upon its release. However, since the episodes released so far only cover the first four books in the series, they were just enough to remind me how much I loved the world Snicket created in those books and long to return to it. Luckily, I found that we carry other series and standalone works by "Lemony Snicket," the pen name used by author Daniel Handler for his works in youth literature. I chose to read his book File Under: 13 Suspicious Incidents because it can be read as a standalone work, or as an introduction to his All The Wrong Questions series.

This book takes place long before the Baudelaire's story he recounts in his more famous series, and focuses on Lemony Snicket's childhood as an inductee to the top secret organization that eventually leads to the unfortunate events the Baudelaire orphans face. As an apprentice to an adult member of the VFD, Snicket leads the reader through 13 mysteries he's tasked with solving in the shady town of Stain'd-By-The-Sea. In true Snicket fashion, the children are by far the stars of the stories, and openly show their disappointment at being patronized by the few adults left in the town. The mysteries themselves are written in such a way that the reader really steps in as a co-detective in the cases, as each one ends by directing the reader to a page in the back of the book where Snicket has filed the conclusion under code names.

File Under: 13 Suspicious Incidents is great for those new to Snicket's work as well as those fans of A Series of Unfortunate Events. The reader can use it as an introduction to the world in which Snicket's series are set and move forward from this book into his All The Wrong Questions series followed by A Series of Unfortunate Events, or view it as a prequel to provide context to the already well-known Baudelaire series. The writing style and format also lends itself to be read individually by a child beginning to read chapter books, or as a family read.