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What we’re reading now… October 16, 2017

Posted by SaraC in Book Discussion, Book Review, Fiction, Non-Fiction, Uncategorized.
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They May Not Mean To, But They Do by Cathleen Schine

They May Not Mean To, But They Do: A Novel…The challenges, frustrations and fears associated with aging parents and how to care for them (even when they are not interested in being cared for) are issues that many have dealt with or will struggle with at some point in their lifetimes. We are introduced to 86 year old Joy Bergman, sole caregiver of Aaron, her husband struggling with significant health issues, soon to lead to his demise.  We observe Joy as a lonely widow, struggling to keep her independence while yearning for constant company of her beloved children Molly and Daniel.  Molly and Daniel have their own struggles, believing Joy can not manage on her own, and are pressing for change ( in her best interests, of course!).  The struggles for all characters are portrayed well, without feeling that the author has taken any sides.   We see all the characters at their best and worst.  Joy is is a kind yet fiesty woman, and at times, made me laugh out loud.  I found this to be a poignant novel which I would recommend. Mary

Mindfulness by Joseph Goldstein

Mindfulness: Six Guided Practices for…I’ve been reading a smart and insightful book called Mindfulness by Joseph Goldstein.  The book is about the Buddhist practice of mindfulness – essentially becoming aware of the ways our minds work, the good and the bad, and looking at these things in a non-judgmental way.  There are chapters about how to handle difficult feelings, as well as how to treat one’s own thoughts, which I found super interesting.  Unlike traditions like Freudian psychoanalysis, in which one really tries to get at the meaning of one’s thoughts, this book suggests that we treat our thoughts as insubstantial and fleeting, like clouds in the sky.  Andrew

 

Dear Fahrenheit 451: A Librarian’s Love Letters and Break-Up Notes to the Books in Her Life by Annie Spence

Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in…Spence, a librarian that balances snark and sincerity, chronicles her long history of book relationships.  She encapsulates her enduring loves and salacious affairs through love letters but also includes the occasional Dear John letter.  Filled with wit and passion this may be a fun and quick read but reader beware Dear Fahrenheit will be sure to lengthen anyone’s to-read list. Trent

 

 

The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury

The Illustrated Man by Ray BradburyThere is something about October that leads my thoughts to Ray Bradbury. It may be his use of the month in titles or my childhood love of The Halloween Tree. Either way, to me October is Bradbury month. I decided to revisit the first work of Bradbury’s I have ever read, The Illustrated Man.  I always recommend this book as an introduction to Bradbury’s work or for someone who may not be drawn to short story collections. The thing that makes a short story collection strong is variety in narrative but united in their creative voice. The Illustrated Man has both in spades. From a pre-Star Trek hologram room to a look at the Mars-based afterlife for authors, the work contained in this collection never allows the reader to be complaisant in their expectations on what the next tale will bring.  A great collection of works for a fall evening when you want to be entertained and challenged. Greg

 

Hold Still by Lynn Steger Strong

THold Still: A Novel by Lynn Steger Stronghis novel alternates viewpoints between Maya Taylor, a tenured professor living in New York City, and Ellie, her 20-year-old drug addicted daughter, who Maya sends to Florida to care for a friend’s child and get “a fresh start.” But just as things are looking up for Ellie, she makes a fatal mistake. Years later, as Maya and Ellie are still struggling to cope with their guilt and grief, Maya must own up to the parts of herself she sees in Ellie. Just as the chapters alternate in perspective, they also alternate between before and after the accident, building suspense. Selected by the Huffington Post as one of the “32 Books to Add to Your Shelf in 2016,” Hold Still balances an expertly woven plot with complicated, relatable characters. Lyndsey

 

The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan

Since all of the men are off to war, the Vicar eliminates the church choir in The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan. When Miss Prim, a music professor, arrives in Chilbury, she insists the choir can be resurrected as a ladies’ choir. The choir lifts the spirit of participants and congregations/audiences. The story is told through diary entries by 13-year-old Kitty, her older sister Venetia, widowed Mrs. Tilling and midwife Edwina Paltry. Lots of things happen in Chilbury including bombings, baby-swapping, love affairs and undercover operations. An entertaining story. Emma

 

The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui

The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir…In The Best We Could Do debut author Thi Bui explores what it means to be both a parent and a child. With the birth of her first child she realizes that there is more to her parents than she fully comprehends. And so, she sets out to understand their lives in Vietnam and their escape after the fall of South Vietnam. As she explores her family’s past she is able to better understand her own childhood and recognize and appreciate her parents’ sacrifices and unspoken gestures of love. In addition to the poetic storytelling, this graphic memoir is also beautifully illustrated and meticulously researched. Megan

 

Mrs. Fletcher by Tom Perrotta

Mrs. Fletcher: A Novel by Tom PerrottaMrs. Fletcher is a humorous depiction of a divorcee who has found herself attempting to overcome empty nest syndrome. Each of the characters is searching for a way to fill a void, and though few of them are terribly likeable, you can’t bring yourself to look away. Beth

 

 

The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne

The Marsh King's Daughter by Karen…Helena has a loving husband and two beautiful daughters.  She has a few quirky habits such as taking two week camping trips alone, bear hunting and maintaining an impressive collection of guns and knives.  She also has a secret-she is the product of an abduction. Her mother was kidnapped as a teenager by her father and kept in a remote cabin in the marshlands of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Helena never knew about the abduction and loved her father, but eventually learned the truth and saw how brutal he could be when he tortured a man who appeared at their cabin.  Twenty years later, her father has escaped from prison, killed two guards and disappeared into the marsh. The police begin a manhunt, but Helena knows that because of her rigorous wilderness training as a child, only she stands a chance at finding him before he finds her. Sara

 

Less: a Novel by Andrew Sean Greer

Less: A Novel by Andrew Sean GreerArthur Less is anxious: he’s about to turn 50, his boyfriend has just left him to marry another, and his book deal has gone sour. How to deal? Less cobbles together numerous invitations and creates an around-the-world trip that ferries him to a literary conference, an author competition, a retreat, and a teaching assignment. Along the way, Arthur considers his past, his great romance with a famous poet, his mid-list literary career, and (vainly) the ravages of middle age, yet his optimism, kind heartedness and quirkiness win the day. Written with playful and witty prose, Less is a charming journey.  Dori

 

 

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What We’re Reading Now… September 12, 2017

Posted by SaraC in Biographies, Book Discussion, Book List, Book Review, Fantasy, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Non-Fiction, poetry, Science Fiction, Thrillers.
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Here’s a look at some of the books the Adult Services department is reading now:

A Rage in Harlem by Chester Himes

 

A Rage in Harlem by Chester Himes

Hapless Jackson begins his foray into crime by investing every penny he has in a sure-fire scheme to turn legitimate ten-dollar bills into counterfeit one-hundred dollar bills. It is only after Jackson loses all his money, and some of his bosses, that he turns to his streetwise brother Goldie for help. Goldie, who dresses as a Sister of Mercy and collects alms for ‘charity,’ works the seedier side of Harlem in aid of not only Jackson but Goldie’s own pocketbook. Written and set in 1950s Harlem this is a grippy and taut classic crime caper.  Trent

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John Ashbery: Collected Poems

I’ve been re-reading John Ashbery’s Collected Poems, 1956-1987, published by the Library of America.  Ashbery passed away last week, and there have been some wonderful tributes written about him online.  His poems are so wonderful, mysterious, and enigmatic – they feel like adventures of the mind, where you don’t know where you’ll end up, but the process can be exhilarating.  For readers who enjoy experimentation with language, Ashbery is one of the greatest.  Andrew

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 Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz is a mystery within a mystery. Susan Ryeland is the editor of popular, but difficult, author Alan Conway’s books. When he suddenly dies of a suspicious suicide after turning in his most recent manuscript, Susan begins some detective work of her own, beginning with investigating the contents of the manuscript. Will it reveal Conway’s killer? Dori

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In the Great Green Room by Amy Gary

In the Great Green Room is a fascinating window into the life of Margaret Wise Brown, the children’s author who famously penned Goodnight Moon, The Runaway Bunny, and over 100 others. The book begins in Margaret’s childhood: a whirlwind of boarding schools in Switzerland and Massachusetts, shoulder-rubbing with members of elite United States families, and family vacations in island homes off the coast of New York–all the while, Margaret’s mind was constantly turning out whimsy. Later in her adult life, she had a playfulness that drew a stream of friends, associates, editors, and lovers to her house. She spent her first royalty check on a cartful of flowers; she lead a group called the Bird Brain Society where any member could declare a day Christmas and the other members would come over and celebrate it; the line between play and life was never entirely clear to her. Just when, at 42, she was engaged to be married and began settling into a more stable life, she died suddenly. This biography is a wonderful read for those interested in bold, brilliant women who made a mark on the world in unconventional ways. Lyndsey

Cover image for Girls made of snow and glass

 

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

Girls Made of Snow and Glass  is a new YA retelling of Snow White. Mina, the daughter of a magician, has a heart of glass. When she and her father move to Whitespring Castle Mina devises a plan to win the king’s favor so that she can be the queen and finally know love. When she finally succeeds at her plan, she becomes a stepmother to the princess Lynet. Lynet is the spitting image of her dead mother, who by all accounts was beautiful and delicate. Lynet is headstrong and fierce and hates living the the shadow of a mother she never knew. When King Nicholas declares his intention make Lynet the Queen of the South instead of Mina, he creates a rivalry between the two women. Is Mina capable of destroying the one person who loves her? Can Lynet save the only mother she has even known? Megan

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American Gods by Neil Gaiman

I recently revisited this personal favorite of mine after watching the TV adaptation produced this past summer. Gaiman is a master story teller that produces accessible, yet still challenging, novels. To enter the world of American Gods is to enter a place where every deity ever worshiped on American soil is given a corporeal presence. Recently released from prison Shadow Moon is greeted with devastating news that sets him on a fantastical journey which reveals the gods living among us. These deities who live on attention and worship are far from their heyday and are showing the signs of the neglect. It doesn’t help that their worshipers have shifted their attention to new gods created through our culture’s adoration of technology, media, and the world economy. A book that seamless combines the world and troubles of the everyday with the fantastical. I would recommend this to readers who are new to Gaiman and get a full picture of his style and world building. Greg

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The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis

The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis is about the research that two men did 40 years ago about the way we make decisions. This is a very biographical, anecdotal depiction of Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky. If you go into this book wanting to know about the men who created the field of behavioral economics, you’ll enjoy this one. Beth

 

 

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Nutshell by Ian McEwan

A tale told by a baby-to-be or not-to-be? This story unfolds by a talking fetus who bears witness to an affair between his mother, Trudy, and his uncle, Claude. The adulterous pair are scheming to kill the baby’s father, John. Will the narrator be able to prevent such a crime, and possibly pursue revenge?Many twists and turns as to what will become of our villains, victims and beloved narrator.  McEwan has stuffed this tale with Shakespearean throwbacks and extensive dialogue filled with weighty vocabulary – have your dictionary handy! Mary

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My Sister’s Grave by Robert Dugoni

This is the first book in the Tracy Crosswhite series, a story of a woman who has spent the last 20 years questioning the circumstances around the death of her sister, Sarah and the murder trial that followed. When  Sarah’s body is finally found, her sister Tracy, now a homicide detective is determined to find out what happened all those years ago, and why people she loved and trusted lied to her.  An exciting, well-written thriller with twists and turns that surprise, but don’t push the bounds of belief.  I’m a little late to the Crosswhite series with the author soon to publish Book #5, but I’m looking forward to getting to know Tracy better as I keep reading! Sara

 

Cover image for On her majesty's frightfully secret service

 

On Her Majesty’s Frightfully Secret Service by Rhys Bowen

Lady Georgiana (Georgie) Rannoch wants to marry her Catholic fiancée Darcy but first needs permission from Queen Mary and parliament. By marrying Darcy she would give up her place in line as 35th in line to the British throne. The Queen asks a favor of Georgie first. There is a party that the Prince of Wales and Mrs. Simpson will be attending. The queen wants Georgie to go to the party and make sure the Prince and Mrs. Simpson don’t marry. Two guests are murdered at the house party and Georgie gets involved in solving the mysteries almost becoming a victim herself. Emma

New in the Reading Room! September 8, 2017

Posted by SaraC in Beach Reads, Book Discussion, Book List, Book Review, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Uncategorized.
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Take a look at these new book reviews in our Reading Room.  Click on the link to take you there.

 

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Stars Over Clear Lake by Loretta Ellsworth

 

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Agatha Christie: Closed Casket by Sophie Hannah

 

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 On Her Majesty’s Frightfully Secret Service by Rhys Bowen

 

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Mrs. Queen Takes the Train by William Kuhn

 

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The Man Who Never Stopped Sleeping by Aharon Appelfeld

 

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The Coroner’s Daughter by Andrew Hughes

 

Latest Editions! July 5, 2017

Posted by SaraC in Book Discussion, Book List, Book Review, Summer Reading.
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Here are the newest additions to The Reading Room. Use the links to see reviews and  book descriptions.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

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In Farleigh Field: A Novel by Rhys Bowen

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Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

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New Boy: A Novel by Tracy Chevalier

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News of the World by Paulette Jiles

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Rebel Queen: A Novel

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The Fifth Letter by Nicola Moriarty

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The Finishing School: A Novel by Joanna Goodman

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The Fire by Night by Teresa Messineo

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The Hollywood Daughter by Kate Alcott

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When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

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What We’re Reading Now… March 1, 2017

Posted by SaraC in Book Discussion, Book List, Book Review.
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Here are a few books we are enjoying now, and we hope you will enjoy them too!

Don’t Think of an Elephant! 10th Anniversary Edition: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate by George Lakoff is more than just a how-to guide for progressives. Lakoff, one of the founders of the field of cognitive science uses cognitive science and linguistics, to explain how conservatives and progressives frame their values and stances on issues. This is a fascinating look at how our brains work and offers valuable insight on how to effectively communicate with people whose beliefs are different from yours. Megan

Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a fantasy story about a man drawn to return to the place he grew up to remember a wild and mysterious turn of events when he was just seven years old.  Equal parts magical and terrifying, the memory centers on his neighbor, the intriguing Lettie Hempstock.  Speaking of magical, I listened to this on audiobook and it’s read by Neil Gaiman himself and that voice–I could listen to him forever! Lauren

If you are a Seinfeld fan, please do yourself a favor and read the book Seinfeldia: How a Show About Nothing Changed Everything by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong.  This is a FANTASTIC trip down memory lane, and gives backgrounds  on the origin of characters and storylines.  I was surprised to learn that each year all the writers  were let go in hopes that they would consistently get fresh ideas by bringing new ones in (although one writer who had been with the show from the beginning avoided this fate).  Don’t feel too badly for them, Seinfeld writers were in great demand and could use the show as a springboard.  Casual fans will likely find the book tedious, but for those of us who scheduled our Thursday nights around the show, this is a treasure. Steve

The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson takes us through the intertwined lives of two college peers, who hide their crazy well.  The story unfolds with past and present narration to help the audience keep up in this fast paced suspense novel. The intricate plot will keep the reader guessing beyond the last page. Beth

I sped through Australian author Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project because it was a hilarious read. The story is introduced by the main character and narrator Don Tillman, a genetics professor in search of love. To find the woman he should spend the rest of his life with, Don creates a questionnaire. The list of questions tries to eliminate someone by asking whether or not they are a smoker, a drinker, their meal preferences, punctual, etc. Don is thrown off guard when he is introduced to Rosie Jarman, a woman who is everything that Don would not find suitable for a life partner. Rosie seeks Don out for assistance in finding her biological father. Through their interactions, Rosie opens Don’s life into a whole new world and a strong friendship forms. This was an exciting, funny, and dramatic story. I listened to the audiobook, which I encourage, read by Australian actor Don O’Grady. Gina

An unforgettable and moving read, Among the Living by Jonathan Rabb is a novel set in post-Second World War Savannah, Georgia where Yitzhak Goldah, a Holocaust survivor, is welcomed into the home of his American relatives, Pearl and Abe Jesler. There, among the city’s thriving Jewish community, Yitzhak becomes “Ike,” and he must find a way to “return to the living” while adapting to a different kind of racism of the American South. When he falls for a local widow, Ike unexpectedly discovers tensions between the traditional and Reform Jews in Savannah. And when a woman from Ike’s past appears, he must choose between a promise once made and the hope for happiness. Carol

In The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti, Samuel Hawley has settled down with his 12-year-old daughter Loo in a small New England fishing village where her mother grew up. Told in alternating chapters, we learn about Samuel’s criminal past and how he’s received 12 bullet wounds, and about Loo, what she learns about her mother and father, and how she grows up amidst her parents’ pasts.  Dori

The Secret Place, the 5th book in the Dublin Murder Squad series by Tana French was a fascinating story of the lives of two cliques of teenage girls at an Irish boarding school. A boy was murdered on the grounds of the girls’ school one year ago, and the murder was never solved. But now a card with the words, “I KNOW WHO KILLED HIM” has appeared on the anonymous “Secret Place” bulletin board where girls share their thoughts, fears and secrets. And it is up to Dublin Murder Squad detective Stephen Moran to sort out who knows what, and whodunit. Sara

2016 Favorites – Top 12 Edition December 16, 2016

Posted by Dori in Book Awards, Book List, Book Review, Historical Fiction, Holiday Books, Literary Fiction, Mystery, Science Fiction, Suspense, Thrillers, Top Ten, Top Ten of 2016, Uncategorized.
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2016 was a book lover’s dream – I was like a kid in a candy store. Between reading and listening, I managed to finish a lot of literary fiction, and a few science fiction and suspense titles, but I have some catching up to do into 2017. Here are the books that I relished in 2016, in no particular order:

laroseLaRose by Louise Erdrich
Erdrich is a writer that I never miss and this book sums up what I love so much about her writing: devotion to characters, insightful commentary on American culture, family love and exploration of the mystical.

 

undergroundThe Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
Deserved winner of the National Book Award, this book is a wildly creative and harrowing look at slavery and its legacy. A must read.

 

 

beforeBefore the Fall by Noah Hawley
Hawley, a screenwriter, deftly takes us through a horrific plane crash, exploring the survivor’s guilt and the investigation into the cause.

 

 

mynameMy Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
This small book packs a punch – mother/daughter relationships, poverty, marriage – are all addressed powerfully and in Lucy’s voice – lovely and sad.

 

 

vegetarianThe Vegetarian by Han Kang
There’s no doubt that this is a weird book – it’s about a young woman whose choice to become a vegetarian impacts her whole family in tragic ways – but it’s also both mesmerizing and beautiful.

 

 

queenQueen of the Night by Alexander Chee
Chee’s historical epic about a 19th century American who becomes a famous Parisian courtesan and opera singer envelops and transports you.

 

 

commonCommonwealth by Ann Patchett
This is my first Patchett novel and I may have to read her earlier books based on this one – who doesn’t love a book about a dysfunctional family that sucks you in and doesn’t let go?

 

 

multipleMultiple Choice by Alejandro Zambra
Zambra is a Chilean author and his books often deal with memory and choice within the framework of Chile’s recent authoritarian history. This one’s in the form of a multiple choice test

 

 

goldenThe Golden Age by Joan London
Maybe my favorite of all, London’s look at how people deal with displacement in their lives takes place during the polio epidemic in Australia after World War II. It’s surprisingly sweet and tender and you’ll fall in love with the characters.

 

 

moonglowMoonglow by Michael Chabon
History, relationships, life, love, rockets! – all in Chabon’s signature style.

 

 

 

swingSwing Time by Zadie Smith
I haven’t quite finished Smith’s latest about two young brown girls growing up in London and the different paths they take based on family, race, class and culture, but I’m entranced so far.

 

 

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A Darker Shade of Magic and A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab
I always like to dip into some great science fiction and I really enjoyed these first two in a series that take us to fantastic parallel worlds.  No. 3 is up next year!

 

BONUS CHRISTMAS BOOK:

fieldsThe Fields Where They Lay by Timonthy Hallinan
I chose this book for my Holiday read and I think I’ve found a new mystery series! It’s funny and clever and the mystery unfolded perfectly.

 

 

 

If` I could keep going, I’d throw these in as well: Debuts The Mothers by Brit Bennett and Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, The Yid by Paul Goldberg, To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey, A Hundred Thousand Worlds by Bob Proehl, A Great Reckoning by  master of mystery Louise Penney, The Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood and The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney.

Sara’s Top Ten of 2016 December 14, 2016

Posted by SaraC in Book Discussion, Book List, Book Review.
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Psychological thrillers have been high on my list this past year with a few other genres mixed in, so enjoy!

Home by Harlan Coben –A thrilling return to the Myron Bolitar series.

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The Good Goodbye by Carla Buckley–suspenseful thriller filled with family secrets.

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Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer–riveting tale of a missing girl.

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Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple–a funny and poignant look into life, marriage and getting older.

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Faithful Place by Tana French–book 3 in the wonderful Dublin Murder Squad series.

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Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell–a story of friends and neighbors and their many faces.

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A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny–book 12 in the captivating Chief Inspector Gamache series.

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My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout–a story of mothers and daughters and the bond they share for better or worse.

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What She Knew by Gilly MacMillan–a tale of how your whole life can change in a single moment.

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Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty–a summer barbecue with repercussions that last forever.

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Megan’s Top Ten (Sixteen) Teen Reads of 2016 December 13, 2016

Posted by Megan in Book List, Book Review, Young Adult.
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Every year I agonize over which books will earn a place on my end of the year favorites list. This year I decided to quit fretting and just make multiple lists! First up, my favorite YA reads of 2016. In alphabetical order:

  1. All American Boys by Jason Reynolds. This ripped from the headlines story of police brutality and race relations is an intense must-read.

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2. All In and Bad Blood (The Naturals #3 and 4) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. The Naturals series     is Criminal Minds with teens. It’s smart, suspenseful, and dark.

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3. Calamity (The Reckoners #3) by Brandon Sanderson. The final showdown between the Epics and the Reckoners is all about redemption. A perfect series finale.

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4. Carry on by Rainbow Rowell. Readers were introduced to Simon Snow and Baz in Fangirl. Carry On is the novel version of the fan fiction that Cath writes. Very meta.

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5. The Creeping Shadow (Lockwood & Co. #4) by Jonathon Stroud. Full of twists and turns and shocking bombshells, this spooky series keeps getting better and better.

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6. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling. It’s always a treat to be able to get new Harry Potter material!

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7.  If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo. This is another timely read about a transgender teen looking to make a fresh start in a new town.

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8. Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray. The sequel to The Diviners is another spooky journey into the supernatural world of 1920’s New York City.

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9. My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand. Fans of The Princess Bride will love this hilarious, somewhat true(ish) account of Lady Jane Grey. A romantic, historical fiction tale with a touch of the paranormal. This is the first of a planned “famous Janes” series.

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10.  The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4) by Maggie Stiefvater. Why did the Raven Cycle have to come to an end??

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11. The Serpent King by Jeff Zenter. One year in the lives of three teens living in a small Tennessee town. This one is a heart breaker.

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12. Still Life With Tornado by A.S. King. It’s always a good year when you get a new A.S. King book.

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13. This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity #1) by Victoria Schwab. For fans of Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, this is a tale of two teens living in a broken world of violence and monsters. So much to love in this dark urban fantasy.

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14. To Stay Alive: Mary Ann Graves and the Tragic Journey of the Donner Party by Skila Brown. This might be my surprise favorite book of the year. Let me tell you: this is a novel in verse about cannibals. Please and thank  you!

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15. The Tournament at Gorlan (The Ranger’s Apprentice: The Early Years #1) by John Flanagan. I will never tire of Halt and Crowley! This new series takes readers back to when Halt was the apprentice.

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16. The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma. Black Swan meets Orange is the New Black. This one is weird and I loved it.

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Happy Reading!

~Megan

 

 

 

 

 

 

The God’s Eye View by Barry Eisler March 8, 2016

Posted by stacey in Book Review.
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gods eye view

THE GOD’S EYE VIEW
by Barry Eisler

Edward Snowden damaged the National Security Administration. Now, years later, current NSA Director General Ted Anders was not going to let that happen again. To do so, after all, would prevent him from keeping America safe; the good of the many v. the good of the few thing, right?

Evelyn Gallagher was a dedicated NSA analyst and computer genius. She had developed software that could track nearly all security camera systems in the world and, even more remarkably, identify people using biometric data. When she identified a senior NSA staffer meeting with a journalist known for his work exposing government excesses, it raised a red flag. But when one of those men was dead and the second kidnapped by jihadists and left for dead within hours after reporting her findings to General Anders, Evie started piecing things together, not only about this incident, but others that preceded it. She is immediately torn between her suspicions and the need for her job, not only because of its importance, but because she is the sole provider for her little boy.

The God’s Eye View is incredibly entertaining, a thriller that travels the world and encounters some of the most dangerous, distasteful people in its darkest corners. Nothing about author Barry Eisler’s writing or storytelling will keep readers wanting. The book is well balanced between a compelling plot, character development, sex, love, and violence.

Unique to many books in the genre, Mr. Eisler does a great job with character development. Our hero, Evelyn Gallagher and her son; the power hungry and increasingly delusional General Anders; the NSA muscle, Thomas Delgado and Marvin Manus; even General Ander’s assistant, General Mike Remar. None are treated as secondary in their role in the book, and they’re developed enough that I had felt a connection with each of them, although some more pleasant than others!

But the book is more than just a thriller. It is a statement about the degradation of privacy and liberty in America and the world and about the dangers that have resulted and will continue to. About the paranoia that often comes with power. And about how complacently most Americans have allowed it to happen, even want it to happen, as long as it doesn’t interfere with their day to day lives.

“I implement what the people want, even if they don’t have the integrity and self-awareness to admit they want it. And I have no patience for anyone who enjoys meat but moans about slaughterhouses, who wears cheap clothes but deplores sweatshops, who weeps about climate change from behind the wheel of an SUV or from the window seat of an airplane.”

Of course, General Ander’s quote above is in defense of the drastic measures he takes to protect America and to keep America’s secrets. But that argument isn’t foreign to many Americans or our politicians. Ironically, as The God’s Eye View points out, the threat to America sometimes needs protected from comes from the people making that very argument. And when finally confronted, General Remar’s response: “He sighed. ‘Let’s not be naive. We’re not subverting democracy; democracy was subverted a long time ago…It’s NSA management or corporate management. And believe me, you don’t want the corporations running the show all by themselves. We’re not exactly Thomas Jefferson, okay, that ship has sailed, but we’re not complete slaves of mammon, either.'”

While the story told in The God’s Eye View is fiction, there are references to current events, news stories, conspiracy theories, and the methods used to control the media over the last decade and a half. Mr. Eisler goes one step further, provided readers with a list of sources at the end of the book that include news articles, scholarly works, and other links.

Whether you read The God’s Eye View for the great story, dynamic characters, thrills, or the deeper statement it makes, I’m confident you’ll enjoy it. But don’t be surprised if you find yourself wanting to remove mobile phone batteries, cover web cameras when not in use, and debate whether it’s better to send files unencrypted hoping they won’t be noticed versus encrypting but drawing attention to them!

George Lichman
Originally published on TheThirtyYearItch.com 2/2/16

So You Want to Read Science Fiction But Don’t Know Where to Start-A Sci-Fi Reading Guide. November 18, 2015

Posted by Megan in Book List, Book Review, Science Fiction.
Tags: , ,
3 comments

So you read The Martian by Andy Weir (or maybe just saw the movie) and thought that was pretty cool, I should read more science fiction. Or maybe you have never once thought that you should read more science fiction. Who cares about all that outer space and robot nonsense? It wasn’t long ago that I fell into the latter camp, but then I realized I really liked time travel and that eventually lead me down a science fiction rabbit hole and I discovered that there really is something for everyone in this genre.

sci·ence fic·tion
noun
fiction based on imagined future scientific or technological advances and major social or environmental changes, frequently portraying space or time travel and life on other planets.
Let’s talk time travel!
kin
11/22/63 by Stephen King is a great place to start! Most people are familiar with King’s work (and if you think you don’t like his work, I urge you to give this book a chance. It is so engaging.) and it’s a fun blend of history and the supernatural.
   13th
The 13th Hour by Richard Doetsch is another excellent genre-bender. Part murder mystery/thriller, part time-travel awesomeness.
More Robots Please!
lock in
Lock In by John Scalzi is disturbing look at humanity, medical ethics, political corruption, and technology. And there are robots.
cinder
Cinder by Marissa Meyer. You’ll find this twisted fairy tale in the Teen collection and I promise it is worth your time. Cinderella is a cyborg! This is the first in a series that eventually introduces a retold Little Red Riding Hood and Rapunzel. Each book is better than the last and guaranteed fun.
Virtual Reality-The Future is Now!
ready
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline is slated to hit the big screen in 2017 under the direction of Stephen Spielberg. The audiobook is narrated by Wil Wheaton. The book is loaded with 80’s pop culture. It’s really a nerdy dream come true and one of my all time favorites. Cline’s sophomore novel, Armada, is a lot of fun as well.
alex
Alex + Ada by Sarah Vaughn is a new graphic novel series that introduces readers to a word on futuristic technology and sentient androids. There are three volumes currently available.
Major Social Change!
when she woke
When She Woke by Hillary Jordan is a futuristic retelling of The Scarlet Letter. I really love retellings and this one is perfect for the reluctant science fiction reader.
handmaide
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is another example of social commentary in a disturbing futuristic world. Published in 1986, I think this might qualify as classic science fiction!
Mutant Superpowers!
steelheart
Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson is another YA book that is perfect for both the young and young at heart. I absolutely love this series about a world in which humans develop superpowers and yet, the superheroes are the regular people and super villains rule the world.
vicious
Vicious by V.E. Schwab is the story of two brilliant college friends who theorize that there are a specific set of conditions that could potentially give people supernatural talents. They bravely and foolishly put their theory to the test, with tragic results. This book is unlike anything I have read and absolutely amazing.
I hope I have convinced you that there is more to science fiction that space travel and robots!
Happy Reading!
~Megan