Saturday, December 30, 2017

The Changeling by Victor Lavalle

When he was four years old, Apollo West’s father vanished without a trace. Shortly after, Apollo began having a terrifying and recurrent nightmare. The dream never varied until, on an evening in his junior year of high school, a cardboard box labeled Improbabilia turned up on his doorstep. Inside were keepsakes, obviously collected by his father, Brian. Among these treasures was Maurice Sendak’s children’s book, Outside Over There, a tenuous link to a father he barely remembers. From that moment onward, Apollo devours every word he can lay hands on; magazines, books, the backs of cereal boxes, etc.   Starting in high school, reselling the waiting room cast-offs brought home from his mom’s office, he is able to parlay his new passion into a career as a “book man.” Nearly a decade later, on the heels of a fortuitous find, he meets Emma, an adventurous librarian.  The two marry and are soon happily expecting their first child.  Despite a headline-making delivery, the little family seems to be settling in well. Apollo, determined to be the father he always wished for, is over the moon with little infant Brian. However, things may not be as they appear.  Emma seems to change shortly after returning to work. Drawn and haggard she begins acting strangely.  She never seems to call Brian by name, incensing Apollo by referring to baby Brian as “it.” Over the next few months she enlists the help of an online community of “wise ones,” whose advice will dramatically alter their family’s life forever. What follows is an Odyssean journey that spans centuries and oceans without ever leaving New York.  

Jennifer Wilson

Monday, December 25, 2017

I, Eliza Hamilton by Susan Holloway Scott

  I, Eliza Hamilton is a spell binding historical read.  Nia Vardaloss famous quote: The man may be the head of the household. But the woman is the neck, and she can turn the head whichever way she pleases, describes the theme of this book very well. 
 Elizabeth Schuyler is the daughter of a well-known and respected general.  She is full of grace, devotion, and intelligence.  She was twenty when she first met Alexander during a party at her familys home, and knew then that Alexander had the ambition of a thousand men, and to top it off, he is fiercely handsome.
                Alexander and Eliza Betsy fall in love and marry.  She becomes his loyal supporter and soul mate, but  heart-breaks, scandal, and tragedy follow poor Eliza.  With her head held high she continues to move forward, and always, even in the darkest moments, stands by her husband.  If you are obsessed with American History, pick up this book and step into the time of the Hamiltons who had a hand in helping to shape our country.  

Love is not easy with a man chosen by Fate for greatness.
-Daniela Green

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Insidious Intent by Val Mc Dermid

This is a new Tony Hill/Carol Jordan mystery following Splinter the Silence.  Carol has been appointed the head of ReMIT (Regional Murder Investigation Team), a new division dedicated to cracking the toughest cases.  Carol has handpicked her team, which leaves detectives from other squads angry as it insinuates they are not worthy and hinders their advancement.  They engage in mudslinging and the team is again being hounded by the press, who are interested in finding out the details behind Carol's release from her DUI charge.
They are handed a case of a woman found fatally burned in a car parked in a lay-by.  At first thought to be an accident, the forensics team finds the cause of death is strangulation. The efforts of the fire department to put out the flames, removes any fingerprints or other forensics.  It isn't until the second murder that they begin to piece together the movements of both victims and realize that the single unescorted women are being picked up at weddings by a man who has crashed it.
The team finds themselves pushed to find this monster before he strikes again.  Tony Hill is busy with trying to piece together the motive behind the crime, as neither victim knew her assailant before being "dated" after the pickup.  Paula and her partner are dealing with internet blackmail involving their foster son.  Carol is dealing with enormous guilt over the dropped DUI charge, and feels responsible for the deaths of her brother and his wife. Tony has convinced her to completely abstain from alcohol, which she uses to deal with stress, which this case provides a lot of.  The tension ramps up as they race to uncover the perpetrator before he kills again.  Carol has a complete breakdown and Tony tries to save her, which leads to an unexpected and surprising ending.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Reincarnation Blues by Michael Poore

Generally, the point of reincarnation is to achieve enlightenment, being reborn over and over to gain enlightenment. Milo, the oldest soul on the planet, has given up on pursuing perfection and instead spends his time between lives with Death, who prefers to be called Suzie. After Milo’s 9,995th life, he learns he only has 5 more tries to live a perfect life and join the Oversoul or he will be cast into the nothingness. Poore expertly weaves Milo’s last five lives with flashbacks of past lives (including the time he was a cricket) and the complicated tale of his (after)life with Suzie. With all of his imperfections on display, Milo is a relatable everyman who shows us younger souls how hard it is to be truly perfect. Readers will laugh heartily and also be touched by the love Milo and Suzie fight so hard to hold onto.

Poore wins the reader over quickly with his witty yet poignant writing, and takes them on a ride they won't soon forget! This absolutely wonderful and inventive tale about love and death (aka Suzie) is reminiscent of the work of fellow oddballs Terry Pratchett and Tom Robbins but Poore tells it with a voice all his own.

- Portia

Friday, December 15, 2017

The Immortalists

I was fortunate to receive from the publisher a pre-pub galley of The Immortalists, by Chloe Benjamin, which doesn't come out until January 2018. It's a remarkable book about life, love, family, religion, science--all the big things. And flawlessly executed. Here's the premise: Four siblings, Varya, Daniel, Klara, and Simon, visit a fortune teller who tells each child, separately, the exact date of his or her death. The four sections of the book give us each of the sibling's stories and explore how the woman's predictions deeply affect the way they live their lives. How would you behave if you thought you knew the date of your death? Live recklessly, fearlessly, timidly? Would your life become a giant self-fulfilling prophecy, or would you try your darnedest to prove it wrong? Benjamin explores all the possible ways these thoughts could play out in the Gold children's lives, spanning from that critical day in 1969. This is a book worth waiting for!

--Kelly Currie

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Warden's Daughter by Jerry Spinelli

Reading books together as a family is a great way to bond with each other and have fun. Instead of having a family movie night, have a night together where you share a new story and read together. The Wardens Daughter is a book that your entire family can enjoy together but is more age-appropriate for upper elementary.

Growing up at a prison would make for a strange childhood, but Cammie OReilly spends her time around the prison, and has even gotten to know some of the female inmates personally. When she was just a baby, there was an accident that resulted in the death of Cammie's mother. This story shows Cammie transform into a preteen with only having a father for guidance. Cammie does have some adult female influences in her life through the inmates and, one in particular looks after her on a daily basis. She tries to get attached and form a motherly bond with her nanny, but it does not turn out the way she desires. A girl needs a mother figure in her life and Cammie has tried desperately to fill that void, sometimes ending in disastrous outcomes.

This story has humor, heartbreak, and mystery. I grew to love Cammie early in the book and was intrigued by her story of growing up in a prison. You get to meet some of the inmates and they are all lively, likable characters that you want to learn more about. This coming-of-age novel was well-written and a story that I could not put down until the last word. Cammie provides narration that will keep the reader wanting to learn more about the Hancock County Prison and meet every inmate.  I recommend this book to fans of Jerry Spinelli’s other works, and for families who enjoy reading chapter books together. This book, and the audiobook, are available in the children’s department.


Monday, December 11, 2017

The Delphi Public Library 2017 Top Ten

2017 is almost over, and, as can be expected, we read a lot of books around here! Looking back at our year in reading, we each took a moment to pick out our personal favorite of the year to highlight here.

Bang by Barry Lyga – I have enjoyed all of Barry Lyga's previous works and was excited when he released Bang this year. This story was full of emotion and unlike anything I have read previously, making it my favorite of 2017. – Lauren Brannon

The Broken Road by Richard Paul Evans – This is is the 1st in the new Broken Road trilogy. Evans is a favorite author for me and the story is on giving second chances, which I believe in. – Pat Lohrman

Dark so Deadly by Stuart MacBride – This Scottish mystery features DC Callum MacGregor who has been assigned to the Misfit Mob, a squad of unwanted police officers who can't be fired. The antics of the squad bring levity and humor to this dark mystery. – Jane Cruz

Difficult Women by Roxane Gay – This collection of short stories is perfectly personal, relatable, and emotional, while also being distant, shocking, and sometimes repulsive. – Sondra Price

The Half-Drowned King by Linnea Hartsuyker – Legend and myth brought to life in this Viking-era novel is a real page turner.  Marriages for political gain, wars, battles, betrayal, assassinations, family disputes--and, of course, scandalous relationships are all a part of this historical masterpiece.  – Dani Green

Hunger: a memoir of (my) body by Roxane Gay – A writer who is not afraid to broach taboo or personal topics, Gay describes this memoir as the most difficult thing she has written. Throughout the book, she opens herself up to the reader’s scrutiny, honestly approaching her weight, her struggle with self-esteem, and the difficulty she faces in daily life living in a society that judges her for being a “woman of size.” Months after reading it, I’m still processing all of the feelings it evoked. – Portia Kapraun

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste NgNg deftly weaves in the complex topics of art and photography, cross-cultural adoption, teenage pregnancy, poverty, wealth, parenting...and big life choices. A stellar book with fascinating characters and a potent storyline. – Kelly Currie

Odd Child Out by Gilly MacmillanOdd Child Out introduces detective Jim Clemo as he searches for answers after a young boy falls into a canal. This fast-paced thriller will definitely keep you up at night! – Bert Blue

The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg – Berg offers us a quick read with engaging and lovable characters. – Cathy Kesterson

Strange Weather by Joe HillHill’s four short novels expose the individual and societal pressures that motivate our sometimes fateful decisions. It features well-drawn characters and excellent pacing for a fat book novellas. And it's Joe, my best pal. – Jennifer Wilson

Did you have a favorite of the year? Share it in the comments below!

Odd Child Out by Gilly MacMillan

Noah Sadler and Abdi Mahad are best friends. Noah has terminal cancer and comes from a privileged white family.  Abdi is a black Muslim Somalian refugee. Both are fifteen years of age, smart as they come, and at the same time they are very different. But that didn't matter to them.

One night, an unexpected incident brought the police in. Noah is in the hospital, unconscious, and Abdi is shocked to silence. So how will they ever find out what really happened that night  when neither of them are talking? It is difficult to imagine these boys doing anything out of the ordinary.

This is my first book by Gilly MacMillan, and I was impressed.  This novel speaks to us of social and political issues. The descriptions and the characters are very good; you can easily visualize the scenes and detect the emotions of each character, which were mostly fear, loss, and questioning. I must admit that I did shed a few tears at the end of the book. 

Thursday, November 30, 2017

A Snow Country Christmas by Linda Lael Miller

If you're looking for a quick, lighthearted holiday romance, this is your book.

Raine is the mother of Daisy and a free-spirited graphic designer, working from home. Mick is a movie executive who captures Raine on Christmas Eve....from there it's all love.

This is a great choice if you like sweet stories with happy endings.

Manhattan Beach

If you like character-driven novels featuring strong, smart women, you might want to pick up Jennifer Egan's latest book, Manhattan Beach. We initially meet Anna Kerrigan as a spunky 12-year-old, accompanying her father Eddie to Manhattan Beach as he visits Dexter Styles, a wealthy man she doesn't know but assumes is connected to Eddie's job. Years later, Anna is a young woman living in Brooklyn with her mother and severely disabled sister as World War II breaks out. Her father has disappeared. To support the family, Anna gets a job at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, one of those Rosie-the-Riveter factory type jobs, but her interest is piqued by her view from the factory floor--watching divers plunging into the depths to perform various ship repairs and tasks. After some perseverance and good luck, she becomes the Navy Yard's first female diver. Egan appears to have done quite a bit of research on this topic and time period, and the details of the cumbersome diving suit and the challenges facing divers make for fascinating reading. Although Anna loves her work and her small family, she is tortured by the absence of her father. When she runs into Dexter Styles at a local nightclub, she begins a relationship with him, to explore possible reasons for Eddie's sudden departure from his family. This takes her into the criminal underworld in which her father and Dexter Styles worked. Manhattan Beach combines historical fiction, crime fiction, suspense, and a war story into one big and boisterous book that was a pleasure to read. I loved Anna, and I think you will, too.

Kelly Currie

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Y Is For Yesterday by Sue Grafton

Sue Grafton is finally down to her twenty-fifth book in the alphabet series!  This book begins in 1979 and goes back and forth between 1979 and 1989.  Kinsey doesn't get involved until 1989 when she gets a call from a woman who has received a letter asking for $50.000 or the police will be given a videotape showing her son and several of his friends raping a female classmate ten years ago.  Lauren McCabe's son Fritz has just been released from prison where he served time for the murder of another female classmate, Sloan who was suspected of stealing the video.  The McCabe's want Kinsey to find the blackmailer and get the video back.
All those involved attended an upscale high school and were in line to receive scholarships at the end of the semester after taking the Proficiency Test.  Iris Lehmann steals the test and the answer sheet, so her friend Poppy Earl could pass and go to Vassar. This incident seems to be the catalyst for the everything that happens next.  Someone reported the test stolen so Poppy and her boyfriend, Troy Rademacher and Iris were all dismissed from school.  Sloan was blamed by Austin Brown as the person who reported the test stolen to the administration, so he told the group to shun her.  In return she "blackmails" Austin with the tape to stop the shunning.  This leads to her murder and Troy and Fritz are sent to prison.  Austin disappears and so does the tape. Now, the tape has resurfaced and someone is using it to blackmail the McCabes.
Long time landlord Henry has taken in two homeless individuals and their dog, which bothers Kinsey because she doesn't trust them.  Ned Lowe the serial killer from X has returned and is stalking her.  Between the blackmail case and finding Ned before he tries to kill her again, Kinsey has her hands full.  Great detective work, interesting story lines.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Sisters by Lily Tuck

      This will probably be the shortest review I have ever done.  But with a 156-page book and not being very wordy, what else can I do?  

Sisters by Lily Tuck is a raw story of a marriage that begun with infidelity and ended with heartbreak. 
      From a 1st person narrative, she gives light to what goes on inside of a woman's heart. Constantly comparing herself to "she"(the ex-wife) she tries to deal with unwanted jealousies and in the mist trying to raise two teenagers of "hers". 
Wonderfully written and very insightful.

People, of course, took sides.  A lot of them blamed my husband
for the divorce and some of them blamed me as well.
Sisters by Lily Tuck


Friday, November 10, 2017

The Readymade Thief by Augustus Rose

17-year-old Lee has been a thief since she was young, and in high school began dealing drugs to help save for college, but these decisions are not what land her in trouble. Betrayed by a friend and abandoned by her family, Lee believes she has nothing left to lose when she breaks out of juvie. After wandering the streets, Lee finds her way to an abandoned building called the Crystal Castle, where a mysterious collection of runaways do the bidding of their cult-like leader, the Station Master, and where her troubles truly begin. When Lee steals from the Station Master, she quickly finds herself engulfed in a mystery that involves a secret society, an empty aquarium, urban exploration, chess, designer drugs, and the works of avant-garde artist Marcel Duchamp. This book is so engrossing that even the implausible aspects begin to seem like real life as the reader falls further into the conspiracies and twisting plots surrounding the underground art and artists of Philadelphia, and Lee is such a lovably gritty character that you cannot help but root for her.

The title comes from Duchamp’s “readymades,” found objects selected and presented as works of art. Duchamp rejected the work of many of his fellow artists, saying they only make things pleasing to the eye as opposed to making art to engage the mind. His art is intended to raise questions and engage the viewer beyond the concept of beauty. Duchamp’s works along with his obsession with puzzles and chess make him a likely candidate for a secret society to build their conspiracies around.

All in all, The Readymade Thief is a wonderful and wonderfully weird debut novel. I cannot wait to see what Augustus Rose writes next.

- Portia

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones

This book would be a great title to read with your whole family!

Sophie Brown is a 12-year-old girl who is forced to move from the city to a farm that was gifted to her parents after the recent death of her great-uncle. None of them are particularly skilled at farming, but Sophie gives it an honest try while her father searches for a new job and her mother continues writing articles to make money for the family. Farm life seems boring and Sophie grows tired of going around cleaning junk piles that her great-uncle left, when one day, she finds an advertisement from the Redwood Farm Supply catalog titled, Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer. Sophie writes a letter to request a copy.

This entire story is told through letters that are written by Sophie to various people, such as her dead abuelita, her dead great-uncle, and Agnes, the lady in charge of the chicken catalogs. One day, Sophie has an encounter with a very unique chicken who seems angry and appears to have special powers. She writes to Agnes to tell her about the chicken she found and how to care for it. Agnes responds and tells Sophie how to care for the chicken and to be very careful because there is a chicken thief out there looking for exceptional chickens like the one that she found. Sophie ends up meeting more chickens along the way and comes to care for them deeply. The chickens bring her a sense of belonging and purpose on the farm. She protects her chickens from the thief and encounters many more obstacles during her story. This story keeps you engaged until the last page.

If you enjoy humorous books, magical realism, fantasy, or realistic fiction, check out this book in the Childrens Department today and share with your family or a friend!


Sunday, November 05, 2017

Dark Signal by Shannon Baker

Newly elected and sworn in Sheriff Kate Fox, who is the ex-sheriff's ex-wife, finds her first day on the job very testing. She finds herself heading out in sub-zero weather to investigate a train accident. An engineer is beheaded in what looks to be some kind of freak accident but turns out to be a murder. Now, who would want to kill Chad, who everyone claims was a very likable guy with no enemies? Could it have been his wife, Meredith? Or, wait, maybe it was his neighbor, Josh Stevens, who Meredith used to date and who was at her house on the night of the murder? Or could it have been Chad's boss Clete or one of his fellow workers?

If you like whodunnits with multiple suspects and cliff hanger endings, you might want to try this one!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Bloody Black Flag by Steve Goble

  Set in 1722, the same year that 16-year-old Ben Franklin contributes to the 'Dogood Papers' on moral topics and J.S. Bach publishes The well-tempered Clavier, John "Spider" Rush reluctantly joined a crew of cut-throat pirates.

  John and his best friend Ezra planned that after this voyage they would live a life of peace. On the pirate ship, Plymouth Dream, someone recognizes Ezra as the "witches son" and fears for his life.  One night John woke up and saw that his friend Ezra wasn't in his hammock, so he went up to search for his friend and found him dead!  He knew Ezra was murdered and he vowed to find the man who did this and render to him what he deserves a hundred times more. With an amateur detective at work, Spider would have to become an 18th century Sherlock Holmes and start deducting.  Try doing that on a ship full of murderers.  A story of pirating that wouldn't be the life for me!  For those mystery buffs, pick this one up---you won't be sorry mate.


Spider stood by Ezra's shoulder. "this is not good..."
"No," Ezra said. "Not at all good." 

Monday, October 09, 2017

Fast Falls the Night By Julia Keller.

     Julia Keller has written six novels that take place in the fictional town of Ackers Gap, West Virginia.  This small town made its money in the past from a coal mining operation, which has closed and with it the good paying jobs.  Drugs are rampant and this book showcases a twenty-four hour period where sheriff deputies, EMTs and the prosecuting attorneys office try to stop the deaths from heroin which has been tainted with a deadly tranquilizer.
The first death takes place in a small bathroom in a gas station convenience store and after that it is a struggle to keep up with the overdoses. 
     While the deputies are busy tracking the dealer, Bell Elkins and her staff at the prosecuting attorney's office spend their time comforting the grieving relatives and tracking down a missing child.  Each chapter tells the story from the viewpoint of someone involved, the missing child's mother, Jake the deputy, Bell and her assistant Rhonda and others.  They all have evolving discussions and feelings about rescuing those who over dose repeatedly with nary a thank you for saving their lives.
     As the clock ticks and the count rises, so does the sense of urgency.  This drug must be stopped before there are more overdoses and deaths.  It ends with a deadly cliff hanger so hopefully there will be another book soon.  This book is based on an incident in Huntington, West Virginia where Julia Keller was born.  She is a Pulitzer Prize winner for writing feature articles for the Chicago Tribune.  To get the full story of Bell Elkins and Ackers Gap, you should start with the first book "A Killing in the Hills". 

Friday, September 29, 2017

The Darkhouse by Barbara Radecki

I always pictured living on an island to be a sun-filled paradise and a peaceful existence but for teenager Gemma, it is a solitary existence. Never having left the Canadian island she lives on, Gemma has been sheltered and isolated her whole life and is naïve to the real world. Her sheltered existence is beautifully explained and some parts seem wonderful and some just lonely. She spends her days with older residents of the island while her father, Jonah, either works on his experiments at home or is at his job as the ferry captain.

The only family she has around is a cold-hearted father who does not speak that much to her and keeps her from ever venturing outside of the island. All that she has ever heard or known about her mother is that she left Jonah and Gemma and that she is crazy and she cannot find out any details of where her mother is. Her father only explains that she was once beautiful but he does not like recalling Gemmas mother because it makes him sick and angry. Where is her mother? Why does she stay away? What is her father hiding?

One day, a mysterious stranger, Marlie, arrives on the island and gets acquainted with Gemma. Little does she know, this strange woman is about to completely change everything in Gemmas life. Marlies arrival brings events that ultimately reveal Jonahs secrets and his past. When Gemma finds out the truth, she decides to venture out on her own and figure out all the details of her mother and what she wants in her life, which leads to an exciting and unexpected ending. This story keeps you in suspense and eager for a resolution.

For fans of psychological thrillers, drama, and mystery, check out The Darkhouse from the teen room!


Thursday, September 28, 2017

Seagull by Ann Cleeves

Vera Stanhope, a Detective Inspector, was asked by her boss to do a talk at a local prison about victims experience.  After the meeting with the inmates, an old man in a wheelchair insisted that he speak with her.  Vera knew who the man was right away.  Former detective superintendent, John Brace.   Brace was convicted of corruption and involvement in the death of a gamekeeper.   Vera played her part in putting him in prison. But what would he want to speak to her about? 

This book tell of a Gang of Four all whom we know except for one, "The Prof".   We have a cold case missing person and the death of one of the Gang.  John Brace tells Vera where to find  Robbie Marshall's, bones but wait, there's another set of bones!  John, seem to have forgotten to tell that part to Vera.  Vera and her team keeps very busy and continually on the go trying to find clues and that means digging up part of Vera's childhood history along with old crimes, bringing them to life.  Hector, Vera's father and one of the Four, haunts her from his grave.  When we have another death and a break-in things start to heat up.   They all seem to be connected to The Gang of Four!

This book is very well written and kept me interested to the very last page!   I didn't want it to end.  Each character was given a strong background to work with. 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Strange Weather

Joe Hill’s Strange Weather is a stark examination of the duality of man.  The four short novels expose the individual and societal pressures that motivate our sometimes fateful decisions.  The first story, Snapshot, is nearly a sentimental coming-of-age tale with an added bit of horror, both real and imagined. Thirteen year-old Michael, a self-proclaimed coward, begins to examine the impact we have on others, when his kindly neighbor, Shelly Beukes, begins wandering the neighborhood, hiding from the “Polaroid Man.” Forced to confront his own fears, Michael discovers that Shelly’s Alzheimers may not be what it seems.
The second story, Loaded, is an unflinching look at what has become a common tragedy, mass shooting.  The lives and histories of Aisha, a young black mother who, as a child, witnessed a family friend gunned down for being in the wrong place at the wrong time; Becki, a young white woman who becomes entangled in a messy affair with her boss; and Kellaway, a veteran whose family life has fallen apart as he falls into a pattern of domestic abuse. No clear villain emerges, and each find themselves under Hill’s perceptive microscope.
The third novel, Aloft, is an unrequited-love-meets-the-Twilight-Zone story that touches on loneliness and the lies we tell ourselves.  Aubrey Griffen, fool-heartedly agrees to a bucket list challenge in honor of a deceased friend and bandmate, but he mostly does it for Harriet (despite being consciously aware of the fact that there is absolutely NO CHANCE that she would ever be in love with him). A strange occurrence forces his jump after he chickens out, and he finds himself stranded on a “cloud.” The cloud appears to be sentient and eager to fill his needs, though he quickly realizes that all might not be well in his cloud kingdom.
The final story, Rain, is a tad more poignant and introspective, though less-than-kind in its imagining of our response to real and unexplained catastrophe. Filled with satirical, and frighteningly realistic, portrayals of consumerism and corporate hegemony, Rain, is a what-if tale that will stick with you.  What would you do if the rain was suddenly transformed into piercing crystals? Would your loyalty take you as far as Honeysuckle’s love for Yolanda took her?

All four tales often gave me pause and made me think. The horror was often a side show that augmented a close look at our own human frailty.  I would recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of character-driven works of horror and/or drama.
Reserve a copy of this October 24th release here:

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Half-Drowned King by Linnea Hartsuyker

Norway is an astonishingly beautiful country.  Cascading waterfalls, vibrant flowers, birch trees intertwined with the deep tones of pine trees, and waters so clear you can see the fish swim past your legs. It was spectacular! When I went to visit an old Norske village I wondered what the people of Norway were like back in the day, these so-called "savage vikings" who pillaged and plundered wherever they went. I just had to pick up this historical read, The Half-Drowned King.

    Marriages for political gain, wars, battles, betrayal, assassinations, family disputes, and of course, scandalous relationships were all a  part of any royal family, in this case the "royal clans".  When Ragnvald Eystein, the son of a chief, was betrayed and left to die by whom he thought was his close shipmate, Solvi, revenge overcame him. To regain his lands, fortune, and his betrothed, Ragnvald pledged his allegiance to Hakon who was a neighboring Lord, but there is a twist to all this delicious madness.  
 This book is a must read.  A deliciously written masterpiece!


"Anger is a pilot who always steers his ship onto rocks. It is a poor guide."
Lord Hakon

Little Fires Everywhere

I don't give too many five-star reviews, but this one from Celeste Ng earned a very definite five stars from me on Goodreads. Little Fires Everywhere is something special. And the title fits perfectly, both literally and figuratively. Life in Shaker Heights for the families at the heart of this story is a series of little fires that start small and then join and grow to consume their lives. Like a fire's "multiple points of origin," each character contributes to the conflagration in his or her own way. The Richardson family is one of the wealthy scions--and longtime residents--of the Shaker Heights community. Mia Warren and her daughter Pearl live a very different lifestyle, a nomadic life, a path that leads them to Shaker Heights and a rental property owned by the Richardsons. Ng has a way of simply and clearly describing each of these characters in such a way that you feel connected intimately to the story. There are no villains or heroes, just ordinary people. And having an overall view of the goings-on enables you to see the disaster as it builds and entangles them. And there is not just one heart of the story. Ng deftly weaves in the complex topics of art and photography, cross-cultural adoption, teenage pregnancy, poverty, wealth, parenting...and big life choices. A stellar book with fascinating characters and a potent storyline. Highly recommended.

Kelly Currie

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

It is estimated that over 15,000 books have been written about Abraham Lincoln. Many of these are straightforward biographies, while others take quite a few liberties with his life (Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter comes to mind). With all of these published works, it is quite easy to think there could be no new way of looking at the life of our 16th president, but George Saunders has proven that it can be done.

In February 1862, Lincoln is embroiled in the Civil War and fighting battles of his own in Washington. He and Mary Todd Lincoln are hosting a political party while their 11-year-old son Willie lies upstairs sick with typhoid. When Willie dies the next day, he is interred in the cemetery across the street where he encounters the other residents of the cemetery including Hans Vollman, Roger Bevins, and the Reverend Everly Thomas. These residents and Willie are in the “bardo” a Tibetan word for a transitional zone; in this book it is the place these ghosts inhabit between life and what comes after. When President Lincoln visits in the middle of the night, consumed with grief, Willie vows not to move on. Vollman, Bevins, and Thomas take it upon themselves to convince him to go as children do not fare well when they stay behind. As the night wears on, the ghosts go to more extreme measures to ensure young Willie goes on.

Saunders tells this tale by interweaving narration from these three and others ghosts with first-hand accounts of events in Washington and from the war from newspapers and letters from the time. This format is confusing at first but quickly becomes natural to navigate and gives an impression of the turmoil surrounding Lincoln and the scrutiny of his every move during this time. He was not yet the lauded “Lincoln” we know today, but a man heartbroken for his family and his country.

Normally a writer of short stories and essays, Saunders’s first novel is reminiscent of those forms as well as the works of Dante and Beckett. Lincoln in the Bardo is at times haunting and poignant and others laugh-out-loud funny. The audiobook version is a real treat. With 166 actors including Nick Offerman, David Sedaris, and George Saunders as Vollman, Bevins, and the Reverend, it sounds more like a reader’s theater performance than a normal audiobook.

- Portia Kapraun

Thursday, September 07, 2017

A Dark So Deadly by Stuart MacBride.

     MacBride is the author of the Logan McRae and the Ash Henderson novels. This is the beginning of a new series about the Misfit squad, where Police Scotland dump the cops who are troublemakers or don't fit in. DC Callum MacGregor is there because his superiors think he took a bribe to destroy a crime scene. This is a funny book full of banter and jokes and neurotic policemen. Callum is first shown chasing a suspect and of course armed only with a large baton holder and a taser. By the time the chase is through, he is bleeding and bruised and has discovered a mummified body.
     His superior's opinion is that it was stolen from a museum, and Callum is given the job of tracking it down. But then they are called out on a missing persons case and find a mummified body in the trunk of a car, then to an apartment for a noise complaint and there is another mummified body in the bathtub. All of a sudden there is a serial killer on the loose in Oldcastle, and the Misfit squad is given the job of finding him.
     Callum  has to deal with the other members of the squad and their peccadilloes, his dying boss, his pregnant former cop girlfriend, and the constant everyday rain.  Unexpectedly, the body of his mother is found after twenty-five years missing along with his father and brother. He also has to face the pedophile who tried to molest him on the day his family went missing.
     These are trying times for Callum, but this case cements the squad together. This book has many twists and turns but hums right along for all 608 pages. Hopefully this will not be the last of the Misfit squad.

Down a Dark Road

    Kate Burkholder solves yet another mystery/murder but not without putting herself in deep danger.  
    Kate investigates the murder of an Amish woman who was married to one of her childhood friends, Joseph King.  Joseph was tried for his wife's murder that he always claimed he did not commit. After one year in prison, he breaks out and returns to the home of his sister and brother-in-law, who have guardianship of his five children.  He takes Kate and the children hostage and tries to convince Kate that he is innocent. He releases Kate in the hope that she will investigate and get to the bottom of it all. It is an unbelievable ending!

While this book was not one of my favorite Castillo's books, it did hold my interest to the very end.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Camp So-and So by Mary McCoy

The cover of this novel immediately drew me in and I could tell that it would be an entertaining and mysterious story. The description also intrigued me as it described a camp that apparently doesnt actually exist yet letters were sent out that included pictures of teens rock climbing, playing sports, and having a wonderful time at a lakeside camp. What is this camp and why are they inviting teens to come stay? Who is the person who created this camp and what are their intentions?

The author tells the story through several voices and each of the five camp cabins has a completely different story and they all intersect at certain points. It can be confusing deciphering between the stories but it adds to the mystery of what is actually happening to these campers. Every type of typical teen character can be found in this book which gives a variety of emotions and views on what is happening.

Not only do we hear the stories of each of the cabins that are located at Camp So-and-So, there is a secretive and luxurious camp across the lake from Camp So-and-So. Both camps participate in certain games to see who will win the opportunity to stay at the luxurious camp and the games get intense, strange, and possibly dangerous.

Written like a play and separated into acts, the story begins with introducing different characters from the cabins of Camp So-and-So and some of the cabins experience violence and difficult situations that create suspense for the reader. Tension is felt after the campers immediately start noticing strange things happening, such as a girl who disappears, horrible food that is barely edible, and accommodations that are barely livable. This is not the camp that they thought they would be at. The story starts to get intense after you find out there are stage hands and other adults who are roaming around behind the scenes.

If you enjoy camp stories, mysteries, or suspenseful stories, check out Camp So-and-So from the teen room today. You will stay up all night trying to find out what is going to happen to these campers. 


Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith

The Last Painting by Sara De Vos by Dominic Smith is a well-crafted example of multilayered historical fiction. A point-of-view styled narrative, the novel revolves around three main characters whose lives intersect with a forgery.
It’s Manhattan in 1957, and Marty de Groot, an “old money” patent attorney whose career seems to have stalled, has a staid life with a comfortable marriage (despite the fact that the two have drifted apart due to their inability to conceive children).  Meanwhile, in 1957 New Jersey, there’s Ellie, a young, isolated Australian grad student and sometime art restorer, who can’t seem to escape the benign disinterest of her parents. Their paths cross when Ellie is asked by a connection in the art world to produce a “copy” of a painting from a series of photos only, as she is told its owner couldn’t part with the original. Ellie, despite intuiting the lie, takes the commission.  The work, At the Edge of a Wood, is by 17th century Dutch painter Sara De Vos. Ellie, whose stalled dissertation is on Dutch women painters of the period, becomes enthralled with the painting, the only known ascribed work by De Vos.

Sometime later, Marty notices that a painting that has been in his family for hundreds of years, has been replaced with a near-perfect forgery. He hires a private investigator to find the painting and the forger. His search leads him to Ellie. Deciding to take the investigation into his own hands, Marty concocts a false identity, Jake Alpert. Under this alias, he arranges to meet Ellie under the auspices of looking for an art advisor for a personal collection. The investigation quickly turns into more, as we learn first-hand from both Marty and Ellie.

Woven into this story are flashes from their future in Sydney during the year 2000.   Ellie is now a respected professor at Sydney University, with an important role at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. The gallery is welcoming a few potential works by Sara de Vos, on lend for an important opening. Soon three pieces of art turn up, two from the Leiden Museum, At the Edge of a Wood and an untitled landscape, and one from a wealthy American private collector, also claiming to be At the Edge of a Wood. Confronted with her own long ago forgery, Ellie begins to imagine the unraveling of her carefully crafted career.

As the stories of Marty and Ellie evolve, Sara’s own account of the painting’s provenance is charted from 1636 to 1637. After losing their only child to the plague, Sara and Barent de Vos fall on hard times. Penalized by the Guild of Saint Luke, neither are allowed to make a living by painting, nor sign any works. Working through her grief in the shadows, Sara produces the painting at the center of Marty and Ellie’s story.  Destitute and desperate, Barent abandons Sara, and their home and belongings, including At the Edge of a Wood (purchased by Pieter de Groot), are auctioned off by the guild.  In turns the novel reveals that Sara has been sent by the guild to work off a debt to Cornelis Groen, a wealthy bachelor in Heemstede. Sara begins to enjoy her time there, working on a landscape painting of a defunct town left in ruins by the plague. The work acts a tribute to her own grief and that of a surviving widow who lost nine children to the outbreak, and refuses to leave the town behind.

This book is a wonderful piece of historical fiction. The characters are so well-wrought and likeable that one hardly concerns one’s self with drama of the forgery until nearly half-way through the book. The audiobook is enacted perfectly, with just the right accents and tones for the tale. It is currently available at the Delphi Public Library in hardback as well as the aforementioned digital audio, via the Overdrive app.

-Jennifer Wilson

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Freedom's Ring by Heidi Chiavaroli

A brilliantly written novel which tells the story of two women living in two different time periods in Boston.  One woman is living in the 21st century during a time of terror--the Boston Marathon Bombing. The other  woman is living in the 1700's during a time of war--the American Revolution.

     The story begins with Annie Davis, or Anaya, who was injured during the Boston bombing.  She was rescued by a man who gave her a ring and a promise to come back for her.  Two years have passed since her rescue and Annie has always carried two things: Guilt and a ring of broken promises.
     When Annie finds out that her sister is moving, she quickly reconnects with her. During her visit she finds a business card with a familiar picture on it so she quickly pockets the card and goes home to call the number on the card, hoping it is her hero she held on to for so long.

     Miss Liberty Cadwell, a patriot, was searching for her brother, but to no avail there weren't any traces of him.  Liberty found herself homeless on the cold streets of Boston.  A lieutenant by the name of Alexander Smyth offered her a job as a housemaid, in her desperation she accepted the offer.
During her employment a problem arose, she grew very fond of him and fell in love.  The bigger problem..he is a loyalist and an officer of the crown, no less!
     During an uproar between the Patriots and the British Soldiers (Boston Massacre), Liberty went to aid any who had been wounded.  Among the wounded Liberty found her brother covered in blood.  Shattered by her loss, she knew she had to leave her place of employment.  With her mind set on packing, she quickly went into her room to pack and was attacked by the Captain, during which he took her innocence. Alexander, who tried to save her, was too late. Broken, in pain, and hopeless, Liberty took her belongings and stole the lieutenant's ring, the very same ring that Annie Davis possesses in the future.

     These two women, in their tragic stories, realize where true strength, forgiveness, and love comes from. It is found outside of themselves.  I highly recommend this page turner!

"It is not memorializing a soldier but the bond we as humanity have.  A bond where love and sacrifice can be used to purchase freedom."
Freedom's Ring

--Dani Green

Monday, August 07, 2017

This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel

Laurie Frankel has written a wonderful book about a quirky, smart, and loving family who is facing an issue that has wreaked havoc on schools across the nation, an issue that many of us don't understand and don't have experience with: gender dysphoria. What do you do if your little boy decides that he feels like he is a little girl instead? The answer for the Walsh-Adams family is: you do the best you can to make your child feel safe, loved, and supported. Isn't that what we all would strive to do? The problem is knowing what the best way to do that is. Penn and Rosie are the parents of four very active, energetic, and smart boys. When their fifth child, Claude, is born, they embrace and love him just as they did the rest of their rambunctious boys. By the time Claude is three, however, it is evident that he is different from their other children. He wants to wear dresses and put barrettes in his hair. In fact he wants to grow his hair long. He identifies with princesses in the fairy tales his father tells them all at bedtime. There are no easy answers in this novel; instead there's a conversation about the many ways people differ on all sorts of scales, gender being only one of them, and what's right for one person may not be right for another. I loved this family. They tried so hard to do the right thing for Claude, and the mistakes they made were done fully out of love. If this is a subject you're interested in looking at from a personal rather than a clinical level, this is a great place to start.

review by
Kelly Currie

Thursday, August 03, 2017

All The Birds In The Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

   All The Birds In The Sky

         Charlie Jane Anders

Dystopia - Science Fiction

Storyline - Intricately Plotted.   These books have complicated  storylines.  Often involving multiple plots w/ twists & turns.

Tone - Bleak.  Dark outlook, frequently devoid of faith in human nature & tending away from hope.

Character - Awkward.  Often unsure of themselves, these characters lack social savvy to navigate relationships & other interpersonal situations smoothly.  

Writing Style - Gritty.  Characterized by a narrative style that includes dark & unsettling details, these book often picture violence.

I classify this book as Weird!

The story follows 2 characters - Patricia, who is a witch, and Lawrence (not Larry), who is the epitome of science genius, building his own second time machine in middle school.  Strangely, the rest of this world feels like contemporary realism, with Patricia's witchiness and Lawrence's genius defining them as outsiders, often causing them to be bullied by classmates and punished by their parents.

The story stays with Patricia and Lawrence through their childhood and into their adult life.  Behind it all is the creepy Mr. Rose, a shadow across the story.  His unsettling presence brings a darkness to the story.   
Patrica as a witch, can talk to animals, is an embodiment of nature.

Lawrence, as a technological genius, is an embodiment of science.  These two seem like complete opposites, yet their lives are forced together, often at their unwillingness.

I would only recommend this book to science fiction lovers.  I, personally, did not care for it...I don't even like science fiction movies!!!!   Well, maybe ET!

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Eleanor Oliphant is the story of a single, friendless and very solitary soul who has worked for a decade in the finance department of a design firm in Scotland.

A mysterious childhood accident has left a portion of her face scarred, and one is well aware by Eleanor's social skills and demeanor that the accident has marred more than just her physical appearance.

Her life outside of the office is extremely routine and guarded, nursed by vast quantities of vodka and pizza. Eleanor receives the occasional call from her mother who is currently imprisoned for a crime that is only hinted at in the beginning of this book.

Her mother, controlling and manipulative even from her confines continues to wreck Eleanor's self-esteem with her sharp and hurtful phone conversations.

When a tech issue at her office requires an interaction with an IT man named Raymond, Eleanor reluctantly forges a friendship with this kind, very accepting and rather goofy young man.  Both funny and heart-wrenching at times ; a very satisfying read as we watch Eleanor's protective walls peeled away one layer at a time as she finally allows herself to be pulled from her lonely shell of existence.

Cathy Kesterson

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Egypt's Sister by Angela Hunt

    An enthralling story about two girls who are raised in Pharaoh's household. One, the daughter of the king, and the other, the daughter of the royal tutor. Chava and Urbi became best friends, blood sisters for life.
    When Urbi unexpectedly becomes Queen Cleopatra, her ultimate betrayal sends Chava to the lowest depths of society, where at any given moment she could lose her life. After being in prison for a while, she is sold at a slave market. When she arrives at her new home, she finds out that after a life of leisure she has no skills to offer, so she decides to become a midwife.  After reading everything she possibly can to educate herself in the art, she finally has the chance to show her new learned skill. After a delivery, she finds favor in her master's house due to her intelligence, skill, and beauty. Chava rises to become the most sought out midwife in all of Rome.
During a time of war Chava is summoned and asked to do the unthinkable to gain her freedom: she has to go to the Queen and ask her to give herself to Rome. This is a story of love, loyalty, betrayal, and trust.  I highly recommend this book.

"Blood of my blood and heart of my heart"-Urbi (Queen Cleopatra)

Friday, July 21, 2017

The Bedlam Stacks by Natasha Pulley

It’s 1859 and world-traveling botanical expert Merrick Tremayne believes his days of adventure are over after a leg injury. He has resigned himself to a life of solitude on his family’s deteriorating Cornwall estate with no company but his unhappy brother. When an old friend shows up to convince him to set off for Peru in search of cinchona tree cuttings for the East India Company, Merrick is initially resistant. With much needling from his friend and his brother threatening sending him to an asylum, Merrick relents and joins the expedition. Peru has a monopoly on the cinchona trees, the only source of quinine, and has begun charging exorbitant prices for the anti-malaria drug. The East India Company believes the Tremayne family’s ties to a remote village will allow him to sneak into the forest and smuggle out the cuttings under the guise of searching for frost-resistant coffee plants. Upon arriving in the village, Merrick discovers that the Peruvian mountains hide more than just the cure for malaria. There are exploding trees, a border of salt that is said to be fatal if crossed, moving statues, and a priest with a strange illness. When the quinine runners catch on to Merrick’s plan, he and the priest cross the salt border and enter the unknown forest hoping to make it out the other side alive.

This is Pulley’s second book, and has some loose ties to her debut, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, though each can be read as a stand-alone novel. A gifted storyteller, Pulley manages to make the fantastic aspects of her stories seem just as plausible as the mundane and shows the reader that true magic is found in love, trust, and enduring friendship. The Bedlam Stacks will be released in August 2017, but you can put your name on the holds list today!

- Reviewed by Portia

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Penhale Wood by Julia Thomas

Penhale Wood is the second novel by Julia Thomas and the first starring Detective Rob McIntyre.  Rob has gone to London to visit with his brother and family for Christmas. He is feeling lost and considering leaving the police force since the "love of his life" Allison left him without a word after ten years together.   When he arrives, he finds that his sister-in-law has an emergency situation and the family has left London.  Rob stays over and is accosted by Iris Flynn whose three year old daughter was murdered by the live-in nanny a year ago.  Iris is determined to find Karen Peterson and make her pay for her daughter's murder.  After leaving the child on a river bank at Penhale Wood,  the nanny disappeared and was never found.  Since the funeral, Iris, her husband and other two children have been living with her sister in Australia.
Iris's husband  has also stayed in Australia which leads readers to question their marriage. Iris demands Rob drop everything and find Karen.  Rob thinks she is hiding in London and will be impossible to find.  There has been a recent development in the case-a psychic has reported she has seen the killer through the eyes of someone in the same room as Karen.  She is able to describe this person to the police sketch artist, but it does not look like Karen.  Again the trail seems cold, but Iris pushes on determined to find her daughter's killer with or without the detective.
There is a side story concerning Rob's ex Allison and her burgeoning career as a crime writer.  As the two stories come together, the tension and the clues ramp up.  Who is Karen Peterson and why are the police unable to find her?  Why and how is Allison involved?  Why was Sophie killed?  Well you will just have to read the book and find out!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy

The sun is shining, the sea is blue, the children have disappeared.

Cousins Liv and Nora decide it would be fun to go on a vacation cruise together with their husbands and children. The families are enjoying their time together, and the children--two  eleven-year-olds, an eight-year-old, and a six-year-old--are feeling confident and independent as they are allowed to attend Kids Club on the ship each day without their parents. A simple onshore outing to an unnamed Central American country turns it all upside down. A series of small events leads to chaos. One minute the children are there, the next they're not. As readers, we know where the kids are and what is happening to them, but the suspense still builds as the narrative switches between the adults and the children. It's interesting to see how the relationships disintegrate into blame and guilt and regret and how the children process their experiences. This is not your typical suspense novel. It is a complex portrait of an extended family in distress. Meloy is an expert navigator of the human heart. Highly recommended.

Reviewed by Kelly Currie