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Ashleigh’s Digital Book Pile

Title details for The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James - Wait list

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

“For the odd girls, the nerdy girls, and the murderinos. This one is yours.”
― Simone St. James, The Sun Down Motel

We all know sketchy small-town motels like The Sun Down. It’s not the kind of place you want to be after dark unless you’re a person passing through or a person with a secret, but this is a spot you will enjoy reading about. The Sun Down Motel is a horror/crime novel written from two different perspectives on two different timelines, but the motel is the connective tissue between the two stories and certainly is a character of its own.

Viv Delaney 1982

On her way to New York City, Viv takes the night clerk position at The Sun Down Motel in Fell, NY, but things aren’t quite right. Women in the area are turning up missing and murdered and Viv is hearing and seeing things at the hotel that can’t be real. As Viv delves deep into the mystery of the murdered women in the area, she mysteriously goes missing herself.

Carly Kirk 2017

Carly’s Aunt Viv went missing back in 1982 and it seems to her that no one cared. A true crime aficionado, Carly takes it upon herself to move to Fell, NY and find out what happened to her aunt. When she arrives, strange twists of fate allow her to move into the apartment her aunt had and even pick up the night clerk positon at the place her aunt used to work- The Sun Down Motel. The motel isn’t all it seems though. Was her aunt murdered or was something darker and paranormal at play? 

Title details for Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice - Wait list

Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice

Rice weaves a truly realistic post-apocalyptic tale in Moon of the Crusted Snow. It leaves plenty to the imagination, but I thoroughly enjoyed Rice’s straightforward writing style, use of the Anishinaabe language, and it’s a fairly quick read- which can be a bonus if you’re absorbed in a story. If you don’t enjoy ambiguous books though, this one may not be for you.

A quick summary: A small Anishinaabe community in northern Canada notices their power is out, this is inconvenient, but not unusual. What is unusual is that the power does not come back, and winter is closing in. It’s not just their community- the electricity is gone. There’s no power, no phones, nothing. We follow Evan Whitesky, a young man with a young family to protect. The tribe knows of their old ways, but can they go back to them well enough to survive the winter on the supplies they have? When a mysterious stranger shows up from the south, and bad things begin to happen, can the community stay unified long enough to survive?

The Return by Rachel Harrison: 9780593098660 | PenguinRandomHouse ...

The Return by Rachel Harrison

“You can’t erase your past when there are pieces of it scattered inside other people.” Rachel Harrison, The Return

Julie is missing and all her friends believe she’s probably dead. Well, everyone except Elise. Elise just knows Julie is still out there. It turns out that Elise is right. Julie turns up two years after she goes missing from a secluded park. After Julie resurfaces, the friends decide to meet up at a remote inn. Apparently, Julie doesn’t remember anything that happened to her. When Elise is reunited with Julie, she knows something isn’t quite right with her friend. She looks terrible, smells terrible, her skin is dull, she’s emaciated, and seems off. Who- or what- is this new Julie? 

This one really had me hooked the entire time. There’s a looming sense of dread that you just can’t shake and you just long to know more. It may walk you in circles a little bit, but it’s worth sticking with and has a great climax. The whole time you’ll be asking “What’s wrong with Julie?” and though you may or may not be surprised, you’ll be thoroughly creeped along the way to discovering the mystery.

I love a good mystery, true crime story, ghost story, or horror novel. All the books in this review reflect that. I thoroughly enjoyed each of these and would recommend them to anyone with tastes similar to my own. My favorite part of the horror genre is constantly wondering what’s going to happen next and the satisfaction of trying to put together what’s going on in a novel. I hope you pick one of these up, you can find them on READS or Audible. I enjoy trying to find the allegory in the creepy and disturbing that you usually find in a good horror story. I enjoy seeing an author hold society up to a carnival fun-house mirror- that’s what horror is to me. But beyond that, I just love a good scary story for the sake of a scary story as well.  

Stay spooky,

Ashleigh

Sharon’s Book Pile

I’ve just finished a few books that I really enjoyed and I thought you might like to hear about them. I read a little of everything – mysteries, westerns, psychological thrillers, classical literature, historical fiction, nonfiction (especially about gardening, dogs and home décor), humor and lots of horror. I try to switch things up, so if I read a dark or scary novel, I’ll follow that with something really funny or light. 

Three of the books in Sharon's book pile.

Three of the books in Sharon’s book pile.

At the top of my list is Grady Hendrix’s The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires. It follows Patricia, a typical housewife in 1990s Charleston, and her book club friends as they encounter a mysterious new neighbor who may or may not be a killer…or something worse. The book starts off laugh-out-loud funny, but quickly turns dark and extremely grisly. While Patricia tries to convince her friends and her dense husband that there’s something terribly wrong with the newcomer, she struggles to live up to the ideal of the perfect wife, mother and hostess. I’m not sure which was scarier, the monster next door or the pressure on our heroine to live up to society’s expectations. You can check it out at WCPL (F HENDRIX) and in our eLibrary via R.E.A.Ds. as an ebook and eaudio.

Book cover for The Animals at Lockwood Manor

The Animals at Lockwood Manor, a novel, by Jane Healey

The Animals at Lockwood Manor by Jane Healey is historical fiction with a really creepy touch of Gothic eeriness. Hetty, a young curator at a London natural history museum, is charged with evacuating the museum’s stuffed mammal collection to Lockwood Manor, a huge Downton Abby-type estate, where they’ll be safe from German bombs during the Blitz. She runs afoul of the ruthless lord of the manor and his equally unpleasant staff, but bonds with the lord’s beautiful and troubled daughter, Lucy. Soon Hetty is fighting to save her precious collection, as one mysterious calamity after another befalls them. Could the estate really be haunted by the terrifying spirit of a woman in white, or does something even more sinister threaten Hetty, Lucy, and the irreplaceable mammals? I loved finding out. I listened to the audiobook through Tennessee R.E.A.D.S. It is also available in print (F HEALEY) and in our eLibrary via Tennessee R.E.A.D.S. as an ebook also.

For a really fun page-turner, check out The Other Woman by Sandi Jones. Emily, a successful young business woman, has met the man of her dreams, Adam. He’s crazy about her too. Things go swimmingly until Adam introduces Emily to his mother, Pammie. For reasons Emily can’t fathom, Pammie detests her at first sight and it’s soon clear she will stop at NOTHING to ruin Emily’s life and keep her from marrying Adam. It’s obvious to Emily that her future mother-in-law is a manipulative sociopath, but to the rest of the world, Pammie is an angelic elderly lady, beloved by everyone. It’s fun to guess what outrageous stunt Pammie will throw at Emily next, and there’s also a great plot twist along the way.  I listened to the audiobook through Tennessee R.E.A.D.S.  It is also available in print (F Jones) and in our eLibrary via Tennessee R.E.A.D.S.. as an ebook.

If you’re looking for something darker and more complex, try A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay, whose terrifying novel The Cabin at the End of the World was a recent sensation. A Head Full of Ghosts is narrated by a young woman named Merry as she recounts the bizarre events that befell her family 15 years earlier. When Merry is 8, her older sister Marjorie begins exhibiting strange and extremely disturbing behavior. Mom thinks Marjorie needs therapy, but Dad believes Marjorie is possessed and needs an exorcism. Things get REALLY weird and increasingly tense and scary when the family’s situation becomes the subject of a hit reality TV show. Check out a hard copy at WCPL (F TREMBLAY) or you can listen to the audiobook as I did through Tennessee R.E.A.D.S.  It is also available as an ebook in Tennessee R.E.A.D.S. and Hoopla.

My current reads are Stephen King’s latest, If It Bleeds (Available in print and our eLibrary via Tennessee R.E.A.D.S. as an ebook and eaudio.), and Savage Season (Available in print) by one of my favorite authors, Joe R. Lansdale. I’ll report on those in a week or so and suggest some other interesting books as well. 

Happy reading while you’re safe at home!

Sharon

 

Book Review: Hidden Valley Road by Robert Kolker

Hidden Valley Road inside the mind of an American Family book cover, by Rolbert KolkerTo be able to understand the possible genetics that could result in schizophrenia and psychosis; to pinpoint the gene or genes that are damaged or missing, alone or in concert – that is what the Galvin family can offer.

In biographical form, Kolker narrates the history of the Galvins beginning with the childhoods of Mimi and Don Galvin, their meeting, romance, marriage, and family that resulted in twelve children over the course of twenty years. In a post war society of competition, the Galvins were successful in the number of children they were able to produce, but why or how did six of their sons end up with a schizophrenic diagnosis? Kolker weaves the Galvin’s history with the nineteenth and twentieth century’s progression of mental health diagnosis and treatment, and how the Galvin family crossed paths with the National Institutes of Mental Health. The nature versus nurture argument looms large – was the extremely high number of schizophrenic children (6 of 12) a result of flawed genetics or a result of a strict mother yet violent “boys will be boys,” outbursts and shocking abuse? Hats off to the Galvin family for their candid story – it could not have been an easy journey.

With most of the Galvin family members donating samples of their DNA to the study of mental illness, they have joined other families with multiple members exhibiting symptoms of mental psychosis to help detect abnormal or predeterminate genes. These genetic studies have gone on for decades – these families’ genetic contributions have been an invaluable tool in understanding the evolution of mental illness.

I read this book because it landed at the top of the New York Times Bestseller List for nonfiction; it sounded interesting. It read like a novel; I was able to finish it over a weekend. It was engaging and, on some level, horrific. At times it was like a train wreck, I was unable to look away, and on the way, I learned a lot.

I will be adding Kolker’s 2013 book, Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery to my reading list.

~DD

Book Review: The Darkest Time of Night and The Dark Above by Jeremy Finley

I was intrigued when the reviews on the back compared The Darkest Time of Night to the X-Files and Stranger Things.  Mr. Finley is also an investigative reporter at the NBC station in Nashville and I thought it would neat to read a local author. His novel is set in Nashville which makes it easy to settle into, a nice mental staycation.

It was an interesting read and the sequel, A Dark Above, has an even heavier dose of science fiction. It picks up fifteen years later and wraps things up nicely. I can’t say much of anything without giving away the ending of the first. They fit nicely together. I was able to transition from one to the other nearly seamlessly.

I enjoyed seeing Lynn grow as a character and the buddy adventure angle, with her friend Roxy added some grit and humor. I can only hope to be as stalwart a woman as the two of them, if and when I am a grandmother. I was a little doubtful about being able to be as spry as them in the sequel.  Things were pleasantly wrapped up at the end.

These books are available in print at the Library and the books are available as an ebook and eaudio in R.E.A.D.S. via the Overdrive and Libby apps.

Recommended for fans of Dean Koontz and Whitley Strieber or if you like tales of men in black and good versus evil.

~JN

A One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood

By Lindsay Roseberry, Reference Department

Quinn Porter was an absentee father. He knows it and his ex-wife reminds him of it often as well.  He didn’t get to know his son well before his early and untimely death.  He assuages his grief (and guilt) by continuing his son’s Cub Scout responsibility of helping out Ona Viktus, an 104-year old Lithuanian immigrant.  Quinn learns about his son as he helps her and becomes involved in her life.  The young boy had to interview a remarkable person for school and he chose Ona.  You learn about her life in interspersed chapters.  Quinn grows as a person and Ona remembers what she thought she never knew.  A quiet revelatory book.

Wake of Vultures by Lila Bowen

By Lindsay Roseberry, Reference Department

Nettie Lonesome is a half-breed orphan raised by unloving caretakers who use her as a servant. When a stranger attacks her, she defends herself with a stick.  To her surprise, he turns into black sand.  More surprising, she is now aware of the real world full of monsters and evil.

So she sets off to find a new home, and maybe find friends along the way. The setting was interesting and Nettie is truly one of a kind.  A great pick for those wanting to read books with multi-racial characters.

Dog Stars by Peter Heller

By Lindsay Roseberry, Reference Department

heller-dogIn this post-apocalyptic novel, we meet Hig and his dog, Jasper. Hig survived the world-ending flu pandemic and more. His only companions are Jasper and Bangley, a survivalist and weapons enthusiast. Hig’s way of escaping the monotony and horror is to fly. He goes on perimeter checks for Bangley, he flies to living forests to find deer, and he returns to a hidden stash of sodas in a crashed 18 wheeler. Jasper is his co-pilot; he’s getting on in years, and is almost deaf, but he’s a great companion. Bangley understands that Jasper is an early warning system. When Jasper dies, Hig goes into an understood decline, then decides to go exploring further that his gas will allow. He will have to find a safe place to refuel the plane–he has no idea what he will find, or even if he will live through it.

Heller is an adventure writer who often contributes to NPR. He is also a contributing editor at Outside magazine, Men’s Journal, and National Geographic Adventure, and other magazines. He knows how to describe nature and has a good eye for detail. I was a little worried about the post-apocalyptic setting, but it drew me in and I ended up really liking the book.

The Tournament by Matthew Reilly

By Lindsay Roseberry, Reference Department

the-tournamentMatthew Reilly’s new novel is historical fiction and a mystery, so he’s mixing two genres, rather well. I thought. I wanted to read it because of the historical side, and didn’t really know it was a mystery until I got to into the book.

Suleiman the Magnificent, Sultan (and basically emperor) of the Ottoman Empire has invited all the kings and rulers to send a chess master and representative to take part in the greatest chess match ever. He is a man very few people ever say no to; two Papal representatives attend. Henry VIII of England, whose delegation travels the farthest, decides to send his teen-aged daughter Elizabeth. After all, she is third in line to the throne at this time, and not expected to reign. She is accompanied by several chaperones—her tutor, one lady in waiting, a nice, stalwart couple, and ten guards. Not many guardsmen when going into possibly enemy territory, especially when they can’t enter Istanbul proper… Her tutor happens to be Roger Ascham, worldly, esteemed scholar and solver of mysteries. When a papal representative is murdered, The Sultan asked Roger to investigate. (His name was suggested to the Sultan by Michelangelo.)

There is a lot of name dropping here, but it all could have happened. The story moves along with several more murders, which as it turns out are all connected. Elizabeth learns lessons daily about dealing with nobles and royals from other countries and other religions. I didn’t know all that much about chess, playing the game that is, but I still found it interesting. And as Reilly wrote in the afterword, Elizabeth’s younger years are not that well documented. She could have gone abroad. Elizabeth meets Ivan IV of Russia here (known to history as Ivan the Terrible), who did correspond with her and even proposed to her. History would indeed be different had she accepted.

Armada by Ernest Cline

ZZ48DF98ECBy Lindsay Roseberry, Reference Department

Armada is Ernest Cline’s second book. Those of us who loved Ready Player One may be slightly disappointed.   We were expecting lightning in a jar again.

Zack loves video games; he really got into them trying to get to know his deceased father. His mother told him about a box of his things in the attic and he had been exploring his father’s notebooks and games. So, when he saw a space ship that looked exactly like one from the video game Armada outside his school window, you would understand why he thought he was hallucinating. He wasn’t. A larger spaceship lands in the schoolyard, and his friend and boss calls him to get in. Just him. While on route to an underground bunker, he learns that his world and everyone else’s is about to drastically change. The aliens are real, Armada, the game that swept the world, was a training program to help fight off the aliens and Earth is under attack. Because he has a high score in Armada (in the top 10!), he is automatically an officer. He is assigned to the dark side of the Moon, to a forward base for the earth forces, to fight off the alien attacks. But is it possible all is not what it seems? Could his father possibly still be alive? Can Earth be saved??

This book will remind you of Ender’s Game, but not so serious and shocking, and the movie The Last Starfighter. While it does seem formulaic in parts, there is room for a sequel. Perhaps, like in other science fiction series, the first book sets up the story and the story continues where it left off.

Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

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By Lindsay Roseberry, Reference Department

Kelsea had never known her mother Queen Elyssa, but she knew that when she turned 19 she’d have to leave the only home she’d ever known to become Queen of Tearling. The Queens Guards came for her stealthily, since several parties wanted her dead before she took the throne. Kelsea’s trip to New London was arduous but eye-opening, not to mention the guards who never looked at her. She kept a mental log of all she saw wrong on her trip to the capital. How would she ever fix anything? Where could she possibly start?

She learned about the Red Queen in Mortmesne and the treaty that called for 250 people of Tearling to be sent there each month for who knew what, children included. Tearling had started a lottery to choose those to be sent. And she learned that her mother was nothing like what she imagined her to be. Can she become a strong queen for Tearling? She can do no more than try.

This book, The Queen of the Tearling, has been talked about for months. It was one of the books to read, according to so many review journals and word of mouth. If you like fantasy adventure, you’ll like this book. If you liked Fire by Kristin Cashore, you’ll like this book. (But I think it’s better…) When I saw it on a shelf in my library, I checked it out. I devoured it in two days. Now I have to wait for the sequel. Because there has to be a sequel! There has to be!

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