Category Archives: Book Reviews
Billie Breslin came from California to work in New York at the magazine Delicious! She loved food and had a nose for identifying herbs and spices. This was her dream job, writing articles about food(s) and places. And she didn’t have to cook! She became like family to an artisanal cheese store,, working on the weekends to augment her meager salary. She was also in charge of the Delicious Guarantee, where she contacted readers who had trouble with recipes. She made friends with these (mostly) women and loved her job.
Then the unbelievable happened. The owners of the magazine decided to stop production! She was able to stay on to continue the Delicious Guarantee. She was the only employee left in the ramshackle old house and she explored by herself, and then a few other former employees joined her—surreptitiously. She found a secret room, with letters from someone named Lulu. Who was Lulu? Can she get all the letters copied and safe before the house is renovated? Can she keep the secret room hidden?
This was the first book I’d ever read by Reichl. She is well-known for her non-fiction books about food and restaurants. She was edition of the New York Times restaurant section, and worked at Gourmet magazine until its untimely demise, similar to what happened in the book. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. The characters are warm and individual and the back stories are fun.
By Rebecca Tischler, Reference Department
When your best friend, when your ONLY friend, is dying, what else are you supposed to do other than make a wish for him to get better. So when Lottie finds a strange girl in her bedroom offering to take her to medicine that can cure anything, Lottie follows. She follows down through the roots of an apple tree into another world filled with magic, adventure, treachery, and the chance to save her best friend.
This debut novel contains a charm reminiscent of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. It’s a fun surprising adventure about the realities and importance of friendship, with a little magic thrown in. The beginning is a bit heavy in descriptions that slow the pacing, and the author can get caught up in metaphors. However, Ormsbee has painted a world for us, and the writing is lush and vivid, and matches the “taste” of the story. The cast of characters are endearing, and well-rounded with each trying to work through issues (Lottie has to break through her innocent self-absorption, Oliver is painfully shy, etc.), and they complement each other as a whole. The ending perfectly sets up for a continuation of this story without leaving the reader on a cliff. Overall, it’s an optimistic, fun, magical book that I think older children, and adults, will all love. I hope there will be more.
Being Released April 2015
By Erin Holt, Teen Librarian
So many teens come in saying they have read The Hunger Games and Divergent and want MORE just like it! Check out this awesome list of titles and check our shelves or talk to our Teen Staff!
If you want another book about the little people sticking it to “the man”:
- The Outlaws of Sherwood by Robin McKinley–The origins of Robin Hood explained with a girl-in-disguise among the Merry Men, longbows, and an insane fight to the death with Guy of Gisbourne. (Shelved in Adult Fiction. Very YA friendly.)
- The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner–There is no better questioner of authority than Eugenides. Much like Haymitch he is always at least three moves ahead of his opponents.
- In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez–A fictionalized story of real sisters who worked in the Dominican Republic opposing Trujillio’s dictatorship as the Butterflies much in the same way Panem comes to rally around the Mockingjay. (Shelved in Adult Fiction.)
- Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys–In 1939 Lina and her family are forcibly taken from their Lithuanian homes and moved to Siberia by invading Russian forces in this quiet tale of resilience and resistance.
If you could care less about Peeta/Gale (but, seriously, Team Peeta!) and want more heroines as awesomely tough as Katniss:
- Uglies by Scott Westerfeld–Minus the Twilight Zone references to perception and beauty, this book basically IS The Hunger Games. If you like one series you’re basically required to like the other.
- Graceling by Kristin Cashore–Katsa’s name sounds a lot like Katniss. She is also a lethal, killing machine ready to do more than her share of the rescuing in this fantasy adventure.
- Plain Kate by Erin Bow–For Kate, being a skilled wood carver is dangerous business as she must survive accusations of witchcraft and the loss of her own shadow in this grim tale. (eAudio file only)
- The Bride’s Farewell by Meg Rosoff–Pell running away from her wedding in 1850s England takes as much strength as it does to survive the Hunger Games. Don’t let the genre shift fool you. Pell is tough as nails. (Shelved in Adult.)
- Bonus: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman–Half-human, half-dragon, Seraphina is a talented musician and possibly her kingdom’s only chance to divert an all-out war with the neighboring dragons.
If you like action, action, and action with more action thrown in:
- Legend by Marie Lu–This is my #1 read-alike pick for The Hunger Games. Action, violence, revolution. And it’s a dystopian set on the ruins of the United States of America to boot. (Leiper’s Fork, Nolensville, but not us.)
- Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick by Joe Schreiber–Perry knows taking his family’s dowdy exchange student, Gobi, to her first dance is going to be a drag. He doesn’t realize that will largely be due to all of the people Gobi plans to assassinate before the night is over.
- Bonus: Little Brother by Cory Doctorow–Set in post-9/11 San Francisco, Marcus is on a quest to hack his city from the sinister clutches of a Homeland Security.
If you like stories about ruthless characters learning how to be “real” humans and engage with the world:
- Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi–Nailer eeks out a living tearing down ships for scavenge. When he finds a clipper ship–and its owner–Nailer has to decide if he wants to claim the scavenge of a lifetime. Or do the right thing.
- The Demon’s Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan–Nick and Alan have always been on the run from magicians. Nick has never liked anyone. A final confrontation with one of the fiercest magicians in England might explain why both of those things are true. (eAudio only)
- Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers–Ismae could have died when her mother tried to abort her pregnancy. Instead she was marked by Mortmain and now she serves him as an assassin nun in 1485 Brittany. (College Grove. We do have eBook and eAudio)
- Bonus: All These Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle Zevin–Paper is scarce. Coffee and chocolate are illegal. It’s a bad time to be a mafiya princess and heir to a chocolate empire in 2085 New York. It’s an even worse time to consider dating the new District Attorney’s son.
If you want more crazy competitions:
- Divergent by Veronica Roth–Being marked as divergent means Tris can choose to join any faction. Choosing Dauntless means embarking on a grueling, harrowing initiation process that she might not survive.
- Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas–After a year of hard labor, assassin Celaena Sardothien has a chance to reclaim her freedom. All she has to do is win a competition against other cutthroats and killers to become the champion of the king who first arrested her.
- A Confusion of Princes by Garth Nix–Khemri is a Prince–faster, stronger, smarter. But is he fast, strong and smart enough to survive against the thousands of other Princes all intent on becoming Emperor of the galaxy? (eBook and eAudio)
- The Selection by Kiera Cass–America Singer is one of the Selected, a lucky girl with a chance to compete for the prince’s affections in this cross between The Hunger Games and The Bachelor.
- The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater: Sean is a boy with everything to lose in this year’s Scorpio Race while Puck is a girl with everything to gain. But in a deadly race with lethal water horses there can only be one winner.
- Bonus: Princess Academy by Shannon Hale–One of the girls from Miri’s village is going to become a princess. But before that can happen all of the girls will need to learn what being a princess really takes.
If you’re in it for the dystopian or post-apocalyptic vibe:
- Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry–A zombie apocalypse with a wild west sensibility and some very gruesome trading cards.
- Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi–A dystopian that’s part X-Men, part jailbreak, all action.
- The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch–Two-thirds of the population are dead from a vicious influenza strain. People called it the eleventh plague. (Shelved in Adult. eAdio also).
- This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers–Zombies are here and, frankly, Sloane is ready to let them eat her. Unfortunately the students trapped with her in the local high school want to live. (eAudio only)
- Bonus: For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund–Post-apocalyptic retelling of Persuasion. You know you want to.
If you want epic world building:
- Incarceron by Catherine Fisher–Finn knows he belongs Outside Incarceron. But in a prison so vast that nothing ever enters or leaves, how can one inmate ever find his way out?
- Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson–Long before Wendy came to Neverland, a fairy and a girl with feathers in her hair had their own stories to tell. (eBook only)
- The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud–In a world where London is ruled by magicians with demons doing their bidding, a djinni and a young magician strike an uneasy detente to see if both of them can survive the machinations they have set in motion.
- The Blue Girl by Charles de Lint–Imogen would never want to be normal. Even if that means she has to deal with a lonely ghost, dangerous angels, and an imaginary friend who just might be real.
- Bonus: Dreamhunter by Elizabeth Knox–An alternate history/fantasy set in 1906 New Zealand where dreams are tangible things that can be scavenged and put on view and nightmares are very, very dangerous thing.
If you want an impossible romantic relationship:
- Cinder by Marissa Meyer–A sci-fi retelling of Cinderella with aliens, cyborgs, plagues and a whole lot of trouble.
- Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel–Steampunk zombie romance with a post-apocalyptic setting and the ultimate star-crossed pair. (eBook and eAudio only)
- City of Bones by Cassandra Clare–Clary can see parts of a hidden world. But when she starts looking into that world, it looks back.
- Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl–There was a curse. There was a girl. And in the end, there was a grave.
- Team Human by Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan–Friends don’t let friends date vampires. Too bad Mel’s best friend just fell in love with one.
This post was written by Emma Carbone for her blog. An updated version can be found on her blog, Miss Print.
Meet Molly Ayer, a 17 year old Goth foster kid who needs to fulfill community service hours or risk going to juvenile hall. Next meet Vivian, a wealthy widow who agrees to fulfill Molly’s community service requirement by having her clean out her attic. Their relationship grows as they work together in the attic and deepens when Molly’s teacher assigns a project where she has to interview someone about their life’s journey. She chooses Vivian. Vivian takes Molly on the journey of being an orphan emigrating from Ireland to Ellis Island, NY, at the age of 9, through her adoption, childhood, adolescence and early adulthood in Minnesota. Vivian’s answers tell a powerful story.
Kline uses alternating chapters to tell the women’s stories, with parallels becoming more evident throughout the novel. Throughout the story, we alternate between present day Maine in Molly’s story, to the 1920’s-1940’s with Vivian’s story taking the reader through the midst of the Great Depression and World War II in Minnesota. Orphan Train is a wonderful novel that parallels the lives of orphans in the Depression era to those in present-day.
by Stacy Parish (Children’s Department) and Liz Arrambide (Children’s Department)
“I love Rick Riordan’s (pronounced RYER-den, rhymes with FIREmen, sort of) books! I have read his Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, his Heroes of Olympus series, and his Kane Chronicles series. What other juvenile fiction books based on Greek, Roman and/or Norse Mythology are available?”
Well, we are just so very thrilled that you asked! Below is a suggested reading list compiled by the beautiful minds in the Children’s Department of the Main Branch of WCPL. You can also find some great recommendations at Amazon.com, and straight from the (Trojan) horse’s mouth at Rick Riordan’s website and blog at http://www.rickriordan.com.
Underworlds series by Tony Abbott (Greek)
- J F Abb
- In the first book in the series, The Battle Begins, Owen is just an average kid with an average life, until his best friend Dana disappears right before his eyes. Owen brings their friends Jon and Sydney into the loop, and they embark upon a mysterious, mythological search-and-rescue mission. AR level 3.6.
Loki’s Wolves by Kelley Armstrong (Norse) AR level 4.4.
Frostborn series by Lou Anders (Norse)
- J F And
- A millennium ago, Arthur Pendragon’s last surviving grandson led the survivors of Britain through a mystical gate to a land of bright magic and dark creatures. Now, a thousand years later, the descendants of those exiles face a threat that could destroy their peaceful, prosperous kingdom. AR 4.9.
The King of Ithaka by Tracy Barrett (Greek)
- J F Bar
- Sixteen-year-old Telemachos has a great life on his island home of Ithaka, which is ruled by his mother Penelopeia while Telemachos’ father Odysseus is away fighting the Trojan War. But Ithaka’s citizens are demanding a new king, and it is up to Telemachos, with only a vague and mysterious prophecy to guide him and his two best friends to accompany him, to find Odysseus and bring him home. AR level 5.5.
Juliet Dove, Queen of Love by Bruce Coville (Greek) AR level 5.0.
The Mythic Misadventures series by Caroline Hennesy (Greek)
- J F Hen
- Pandy, aka Pandora Atheneus Andromaeche Helena, has a fantastic prop for a show-and-tell project at school. She knows the box that Zeus himself gave to her father must never ever be opened, but accidents happen, right? And now it’s up to Pandy to capture all seven evils that escaped from the box, or go down in history as the girl who ruined the world. This fun series begins with Pandora Gets Jealous. AR level 5.5.
The Last Girls of Pompeii by Katheryn Lasky (Rome)
- J F Las
- In the summer of AD 79 in the city of Pompeii are two girls named Julia and Sura who lead very different lives. When the girls learn of the plans their parents have for each of them, coupled with the impending eruption of Mount Vesuvius, they are forced to confront the true meaning of freedom. AR level 5.1.
Goddess Girls series by Joan Holub (Greek) AR level 4.5-5.5
The Roman Mysteries series by Caroline Lawrence (Rome)
- J F Law
- In the first book of this clever and engaging series, The Thieves of Ostia, amateur detective Flavia Gemina and her friends must solve the mystery of who beheaded the guard dog belonging to her neighbors (who are secretly Christians.) Although some of the descriptions of the violence that occurs may be too graphic for more sensitive readers, this book provides an intriguing glimpse into the customs, attitudes, and culture of the Holy Roman Empire. AR level 5.2.
The 13th Sign by Kristin O’Donnell Tubb (Greek)
- J F Tub
- What if there were 13 zodiac signs instead of 12? And what if you accidentally unlocked the 13th one, Ophiuchus, and that infuriated the other signs? In this fast-paced book, Jalen does exactly that, and along with her best friend and her brother must battle in the streets of New Orleans to get the signs back where they belong. AR level 4.4.
Time Warp Trio series by Jon Scieszka (Various eras/locations) AR 3.5-4.0.
- J F Sci
By Lindsay Roseberry, Reference Librarian
A J Fikry is a curmudgeon who owns the only book store on an island off the Eastern seaboard. He has definite likes and dislikes when it comes to purchasing books for his store. He growled and grouched at the new book representative, who had replaced the only real friend he had. He hadn’t even known the man had died. His wife died a few years ago, and he is still grieving; he drinks himself to sleep almost every night. He lives above the store in a modest apartment. He has gotten into the habit of leaving his bookstore unlocked; he figures there is nothing really worth stealing. It is safe to say the book store is not as popular as it was while his wife was still alive.
One night he took out his retirement nest egg –a book entitled Tammerlane, a very rare Poe work. He drank to excess , as usual, and passed out; when he woke up the book was gone. In a panic, he ran out to try to find it and then called the police. He searched high and low and when he came back, just as he was getting ready to drink again that night, he heard a noise. Someone had left a baby in his store while he was out. There was a note from the mother stating that she thought a bookstore would be a good place to leave Maya since she loved books so much. She also said she just couldn’t take care of her as Maya needed. The local police officer said he called Child Services, but it wouldn’t be until Monday that they would be able to get to the island.
You’ll have to read the book to find out what happened with A J and the baby.
I really enjoyed this book, which is destined to become a book club classic. It’s great for anyone who likes books and reading. I thought I knew what would happen, but I was surprised by several developments. Ms. Zevin has written other adult novels and is well known for her Teen novels as well.
By Erin Holt, Teen Librarian
There’ve been so many times that our Teen staff have been asked for “safe” romance novels for their teens, starting at the age of 12. So we decided to create this awesome list of safe teen romance titles. Check it out!
The Summer I Turned Pretty, It’s Not Summer Without You, We’ll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han – Follow Belly on her journey over several summers, including a best friend, two love interests, and a love triangle
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith – When four minutes changed everything in 24 hours.
The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg – What happens when Penny decides to give up boys and dating…
All These Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle Zevin – NYC in the year 2083, chocolate and coffee are illegal and teen Anya’s mafia family is accused of poisoning chocolate that they have been distributing
Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler – BFFs Frankie and Anna spend a 20 day vacation together, making a bet that they can meet one boy per day.
Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn – A sweet fun read involving books, New York City, and teen love interests.
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell – A beautiful love story, taking place in 1986, between 2 misfit teenagers.
What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen – A story about a girl…and the cute guy next door…
Just One Day by Gayle Forman – The lives of Allyson and Willem is transformed in just 24 hours
*See the Teen Library staff for a complete list of titles*
By Lindsay Roseberry, Reference Librarian
Have you read all three of The Girl Who books? Looking for a new Salander? Perhaps you should try the books by Carol O’Connell featuring Mallory. Kathy Mallory was an eleven year old foundling living on the streets when she was rescued by New York police detective Markowitz. As she grew up, she continued to lack many social skills, including empathy, conversation and humor. She is considered by some a sociopath. One review stated that Mallory is the original Salander. The novels are all full of twists and turns and interesting characters.
The books, in order are Mallory’s Oracle (1994), The Man Who Cast Two Shadows (1995), Killing Critics (1996), Stone Angel (1997), Shell Game (1999), Crime School (2002), The Jury Must Die (2003), Winter House (2004), Find Me (2006) and the most recent book The Chalk Girl (2011). Our library has the entire series.
By Lindsay Roseberry, Reference Librarian
In this imaginative steam-punk fantasy, the god Kos, protector of Alt Coulumb, has died and must be revived before the city falls apart. Kos the Everburning literally keeps the city going—holding up the city’s infrastructure, as well as answering the prayers of his church and clergy. Tara Abernathy, a new intern, and her boss, Mrs. Kevarian (from the investigative firm Kelethras, Albrecht and Ao) have come to Alt Coulumb to find out how Kos died and revive him. Tara and Mrs. Kevarian are magical investigators who solve problems. They have run into a big one. Kos was murdered—who would be able to murder a god? Any why?
One reviewer suggested that if the authors Roger Zelazny, Neil Gaiman and John Grisham had collaborated on a book, something like Three Parts Dead would be the result. I’d like to add Jim Butcher and possibly Terry Pratchett to this list as well.
Will Tara, with the help of the priest Abelard and Justice Cat(herine) and the despised gargoyles, find out what happened to Kos and bring him back? Will the city survive if they can’t? Why did someone wipe the vampire privateer’s mind? Is Justice truly blind? And most importantly, when will the sequel come out?! Remarkable that this is Gladstone’s first novel.
By Liz Arrambide, Children’s Librarian
Occasionally families ask us what books do we have to teach very young children how to read. Most of the books we carry are designed for older children. Megan Sheridan has written an excellent article on this blog explaining fun ways to teach basic early literacy skills.
For families that want to teach their young children (under age six) how to read there is an excellent book: “How to Teach Your Baby to Read: the gentle revolution” by Glenn Doman and Janet Doman. Glenn Doman and his research team started in the 1950’s to see what they could do to help children with brain injuries increase their capacity to learn. The researchers learned that their methods helped the children to learn to read. They were surprised to find that a brain damaged child could read at ages three and four when their peers could not.
The institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential began to theorize that very young children seem to be learning differently than children who are six years or older. A child learns language by being shown an object and then being told the name of the object. The team experimented and found that this type of learning can be extended to teaching a child to read. Very young children can learn that the sound ”ball”, a physical ball and the word “ball” all mean the same thing. Their in-depth research showed that this facility of the brain disappears at age six.
As a young mother, I was intrigued with this book. I tried their methods with my then two and half year old child. We had a lot of fun and she learned to read really well. When she started Kindergarten, she tested at a third grade reading level. I’ve tutored others in reading since then. It was much easier for my daughter to learn to read using this method. She didn’t have to be taught about “consonant blends” or the “er” sound etc. She didn’t go through these stages. For interested families, this revised edition offers a fun and easy way to teach very young children to read.