Tuesday, November 24, 2015



I really enjoyed reading "Wildflower" and it was a good read. However, I was very surprised to read about her sad childhood.  I also couldn't believe that any judge would give a fourteen year old child her emancipation, which means she would be living on her own.

Liked Drew's honesty and openness.   Her life went down many paths, but she made good choices after her "wild child" days.  She met many good people who supported her.  I liked the chapter "The Royal Hawaiian" about her grandfather, who loved Drew deeply and had a great love for education.

Drew shows that you can overcome anything, and not being perfect is okay.  I think this book would make a good movie.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Killing Reagan

...by Bill O'Reilly.  Definitely an interesting read or listen depending on your media. You will learn much - not only about Ronald Reagan, his career and family - but also about political elections and politics in general. Our nation's political history is an interesting one for sure and there is much, that at the time, the public is not privy to... you now can be privy to in this book.

And then, Hinckley, the would be assassin of the president, we get to see what made him tick.

O'Reilly and his co-writer, Martin Dugard, did their research and Reagan is not candy coated one bit. The book is honest and not political-party biased. Killing Reagan gives us the real man, our 40th president, Ronald Reagan.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall by Katie Alender

After the death of a family member and former pen pal, Delia and her family take a trip to renovate the house Aunt Cordelia left for Delia. This is no ordinary house and the family has no idea what horrors this former mental institute for unstable women holds beneath the surface.

Formerly the Piven Institute for the Care and Correction of Troubled Females, known by locals as “Hysteria Hall”, is filled with spirits of former residents and employees who have been trapped for decades. This building also houses something dark and sinister that traps Delia on the property forever.

This horror story is filled with mystery and thrills. You get to know the history of “Hysteria Hall” and follow Delia’s journey in the afterlife. When family and former friends visit the house, she must fight the strong, dangerous force that is responsible for her untimely demise. Will she be able to save the ones she loves from an eternity at this asylum? What will become of the poor souls who have been trapped for decades? Why does Delia possess powers that nobody else does? To find the answers to these questions, pick up Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall from the Teen Room today.


Monday, November 09, 2015

Avenue of Mysteries by John Irving

This month’s review found me drawing straws.  Fall seems to be the time of the year that all of my favorite authors tend to publish. Within the last three weeks I have read the newest Rushdie novel, Geraldine Brook’s latest, and one of my favorite authors, John Irving, published last Tuesday.  I was of two minds on which book to write my blog on, but finally settled on John Irving’s novel Avenue of Mysteries. Not necessarily because it’s the best offering of the three, but simply because I was so thrilled to see Irving again.  This novel, as many of Irving’s works, centers on the life and experiences of a burgeoning male adolescent.  No one writes children quite like Mr. Irving.  He never shies from burdening his child characters with a full range of emotional and physical experiences (horrors).  His newest protagonist, Juan Diego a “dump” kid from Mexico City, is no exception. From the present perspective we learn that Juan Diego is a successful writer (he has been able to retire from a career of teaching at Irving’s oft mentioned Iowa Writing Workshop), who dwells on the past to avoid a present wherein he finds himself somewhat “diminished” by a regimen of Beta Blockers prescribed to mitigate heart issues.  Diego’s main bone to pick with the pills is that they seem to interrupt a stream of dreams wherein he is able to relive the formative events of his early adolescence.  All of this begins to change soon after Diego embarks on a trip to the Philippines, where he plans to fulfill a promise made when he was just a boy. At the airport he meets two mysterious women who seem to have an odd, manipulative effect on him, both body and mind.  As he allows himself to be led on this here-and-now journey by two strange, yet strangely familiar women, he gives in ever more readily to the siren call of the past.  Diego’s vivid memories introduce the reader to a cast of characters only an Irving fan could love: Two dogmatic Jesuits, a transgendered prostitute, an atheist surgeon, a loveable priest, a flagellating scholastic, a mind reader, a cripple, a circus troupe, and the usual assortment of thoughtful children and dogs.  Despite growing up on Mexico City’s dump until a fateful day during his fourteenth year, Juan Diego describes his childhood as a happy one, self-taught by reading books left for burning, and translating the speech of his younger, twelve year-old sister Lupe, the “dump reader” reminisces fondly. Lupe, a mind reader, of the unreliable prescient sort, with an unknown speech impediment, becomes increasingly inscrutable as she and Diego fall victim to a series of unfortunate events. Fantastic and charming, Avenue of Mysteries reminds me why I fell in love with John Irving twenty years ago.
-Jennifer Wilson

The Aeronaut's Windlass by Jim Butcher

Jim Butcher is, to many, the author who defines the world of Urban Fantasy novels. His Butcher Files series features Harry Dresden, a private investigator in Chicago who also happens to be an incredibly powerful wizard. One of the things I love most about this series is Butcher’s ability to weave the magical world of wizards, vampires, ghosts, and more within the very real setting of modern-day Chicago. I love imagining all of the magic happening just out of sight while the rest of us are living our daily lives.

Butcher’s new Steampunk series, Cinder Spires, is a vast departure from the world we know, but does not sacrifice Butcher’s mastery of characters or plot in order to create this new world where the earth’s surface has been made uninhabitable and people live above the clouds in vast cities built within tall stone spires. In this fanciful place, travel is done by airship (literally ships that fly), and everything from the ships to teapots to weapons are powered by magical crystals. With so much to explain about how things work, the first installment of the series, The Aeronaut’s Windlass, has a fairly long, slow introduction before the action picks up. Luckily, once the story really gets started (about 200 pages in), it is action-packed until the very end.

When Spire Albion is unexpectedly attacked by a rival spire, the Spirearch (similar to a British monarch) sends a rag-tag group off to search for spies within his armies. Leading the group is Privateer Francis Grimm, a disgraced military man with a heart of gold. Joining him on his ship are members of the Spirearch’s personal guard, a couple of strange yet powerful etherealists (this world’s wizards), and a talking cat. Along the way, this group uncovers a conspiracy so deep it goes all the way down to the earth’s toxic and frightening surface. After delving so deep into this world, it will be hard to leave it behind until the next installment in the series comes out (hopefully soon!).

While Butcher has long been the King of Urban Fantasy, he has proven with The Aeronaut’s Windlass that he is not a one-genre pony. This is a fantastic book for fans of fantasy of any kind as well as anyone who enjoys a great adventure story. 
- Portia Kapraun