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Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

By Rebecca Tischler, Reference Department

Redqueen

Mare Barrow’s world is divided by blood—those with common, Red blood serve the Silver- blooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities. Mare is a Red, scraping by as a thief in a poor, rural village, until a twist of fate throws her in front of the Silver court. Before the king, princes, and all the nobles, she discovers she has an ability of her own.

To cover up this impossibility, the king forces her to play the role of a lost Silver and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks everything and uses her new position to help the Scarlet Guard—a growing Red rebellion—even as her heart tugs her in an impossible direction. One wrong move can lead to her death, but in the dangerous game she plays, the only certainty is betrayal.


I actually enjoyed this book despite the numerous YA novel cliches that it invokes.  Yes, there is an oppressive government, the main character is one of the oppressed and discovers she’s “special”, she becomes part of the revolution, and there is a love triangle.  However, this typical story is made more interesting when the oppressive group are armed with superpowers, such as super-strength, super-speed, telepathy and various abilities to manipulate metal, plants, fire, water, animals, ect., which makes it much more difficult for the oppressed to fight back.  Unfortunately, the characters are a little predictable and flat, with the main character acting inconsistent and thoughtless, but the revolution and the rebel’s plans make it much more interesting.  When battling against a superhuman group, sometimes dark and violent decisions have to be made.

Overall, it feels like a typical YA government oppression book, but it saves itself with a ruthless rebellion and superpowers.  These two aspects add an edge that heightens the tension and danger in the book and makes the reader want to discover what happened.  My hope is that the rest of the trilogy focuses on darkness of the rebellion instead of the romance or the drama between characters.

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The Girl with All the Gifts by M. R. Carey

By Rebecca Tischler, Reference Department

The_Girl_with_All_the_Gifts

Melanie is a very special girl. Dr. Caldwell calls her “our little genius.” Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh.


Filled with well-drawn characters and a future that will make you think, this book was engaging.  The setting may be an apocalyptic future where small bands of people are gathered in fortified bases to keep out the “hungries,” but the book really isn’t about the action, or the fight like most apocalyptic books.  It’s about a group of people trying to survive in a world that’s collapsed.  The character’s are the core of the book and are what draw the reader in, although that does mean that the pace can drag a little.  There’s Melanie, a strangely intelligent feral child that just wants love and acceptance, Ms. Justineau, Melanie’s teacher whose affection and compassion for her students causes her pain, Sergeant Ed Parks, a good man who is suspicious of the feral children, and Dr. Caldwell, who will do whatever it takes to save the world no matter the consequences.

There were several big twists in the book that didn’t really come as a surprise, such as why Melanie is strapped to a chair for class, but that really didn’t bother me.  There was a predictable science based logic, and I really enjoyed that adherence to logic.  The world Carey created made sense and felt like this apocalyptic future could be a possibility.  However, even though it can be a little predictable, the ending took me by surprise, although in hindsight, I should have expected it.

This was a really intriguing book with a realistically built world, rounded empathetic characters, and an ability to make a person think about hard questions and the future.

So Many Christians, So Few Lions by George Yancey and David Williamson

By Lance Hickerson, Reference Departmentfew lions

What’s the Big Deal about the New Study on Christianophobia in the U.S.?

Two professors of Sociology just published their rigorous research on whether there is what may be called Christianophobia in America. They define Christianophobia as unreasonable hatred or fear of Christians. Their book: So Many Christians, So Few Lions, is printed by a mainstream academic publisher. This is significant in that the study is coming from the professional academic world versus what otherwise might be written off as incidental musings over isolated occurrences.

Isn’t this a biased study since at least one of the professors is a Christian?

No more than the fact that Yancey is black means he cannot say anything scientifically valid about racism. He has done significant studies on racism, and now, on Christianophobia.

So what did the authors, George Yancey and David Williamson, find?

First, they are finding that it is conservative Christians who are singled out. “Anti-Christian hostility is a phenomenon that conservative Christians have to deal with, but Christians in general usually escape this level of animosity” (p. 33).

Second, the authors observe : “Surprisingly, religious groups in general experience more animosity than racial groups” (p. 33; “As we have already seen in the … data, that animosity toward Christians is more prevalent than animosity toward people of color … “ p. 123, bold mine).

Third, a personal observation is that their work is based on a large national survey which helps toward having a valid research sample versus the common unscientific type polls by news groups we hear every day which tend to work with 1) too small a sample of people to draw larger conclusions, while often 2) self-selecting participants that already lean the way they hope the survey turns out (thus sample bias)!.

Yancey and Williams summarize what they have learned thus far.

An unknown percentage of individuals hate, mistrust, and/or fear conservative Christians to an extensive degree. We know from the information provided by the American National Election Survey [2012; involving 3,067 respondents] that their number is not likely miniscule since nearly a third of the country feels substantial relative hostility toward conservative Christians. The extent of relative hostility directed toward this group is at least as high as that directed at Muslims; thus those concerned about Islamophobia in the United States have as much reason to be concerned about this relative hostility toward conservative Christians—especially since those with this antipathy are more likely to be wealthy, educated, and white, thus to have greater per capita social power than the average American.

Our deeper exploration through qualitative data [open ended questionnaires with 3,577 reponspondents] indicates that at least some with relative hostility toward conservative Christians despise what they see as this group’s intolerance and homophobia. They [those exhibiting anti-Christian hostility] rely on stereotypes every bit as potent as those based on race, ethnicity, sex, or sexual preference. They show a personal mistrust of conservative Christians and consider them evil; as the opposite of respect and tolerance, this can be seen as bigotry. They fear Christians will take over our society and think of them as mindless sheep led by manipulative leaders. This dehumanization leaves some of them open to a societal rules that disparately impact conservative Christians. (p. 109).

Who is it that holds this animosity toward conservative Christians?

Basically, the hostility is rooted in an elite subculture involving those who may be generally described as: highly educated, white, wealthy, not highly religious, and identified as progressives (defined as an understanding of morality that minimizes traditional religious justifications and is determined by what the individual decides is best for him- or herself).

According to this elite subgroup, what is wrong with Christians?

Co-author George Yancey answered this question in an interview on the book with the Christian Post. He responds:

“In the minds of many of the respondents Christians are ignorant, intolerant and stupid individuals who are unable to think for themselves. The general image they have of Christians is that they are a backward, non-critical thinking, child-like people who do not like science and want to interfere with the lives of everyone else.

But even worse, they see ordinary Christians as having been manipulated by evil Christian leaders and will vote in whatever way those leaders want. They believe that those leaders are trying to set up a theocracy to force everybody to accept their Christian beliefs. So, for some with Christianophobia, this is a struggle for our society and our ability to move toward a progressive society. Christians are often seen as the great evil force that blocks our society from achieving this progressive paradise.”

What’s the big deal—how can such a small group be a problem for a Christian majority?

George Yancey

George Yancey

The concern arises from this being an elite small group with great formative power in our society due to wealth, along with influential positions in education, government, law courts, entertainment, journalism and media. The group forms an influential, and sometimes censoring, core of the “talking class” in our world. Yancey explains: “If you want to get elected to political office, then atheists are at a disadvantage since more people do not like them. But if you want to get a higher education, then you will run into a lot more people with power who hate Christians than who hate atheists.”

How are the findings on Christianophobia helpful?

Firstly, the study validates the experience of Christians who encounter anti-religious bigotry. There is a tendency, even among Christians, to minimize reports of those who experience anti-Christian hostility. I recall one Christian commenting on the movie God’s Not Dead, which follows the experience of a college freshman who encounters blatant and dogmatic attacks on his faith from his Philosophy professor. Her comment was, “The premise is so lame. That does not happen.” Unfortunately, this Christian is socially desensitized to the plight of her fellow believers. It really does happen, and is not merely accidental to academic life. It even happened to the present writer who was shocked speechless by one Professor of Anthropology’s hostile off the wall rant directed his way. Fortunately, a Jewish Anthropology graduate teaching assistant took up for me and redeemed the day. The study by Yancey and Williamson puts all this in reliable perspective. There is measurable anti-Christian hostility in our society.

Secondly, it is a matter of being truthful about what is going on in our time and place. The study documents “that some level of Christianophobia is present among certain powerful subcultures in our society. This helps us understand some actions in our society.”

Thirdly, in Yancey’s words: “People do not like to admit that they are biased or bigoted but often those disaffinities come out in other ways. Because of the attention rightly paid to bigotry . . . there is social pressure on those who take actions that may harm those groups to engage in introspection to make sure they are not being unfair.

I have seen a dearth of such introspection by those who make decisions that may harm Christians. I hope that this work will encourage such critical thinking among those with Christianophobia and perhaps help some to confront a bigotry they did not realize they possessed.”

Give me a good illustration of what’s going on in America!

The last question for Yancey during his Christian Post interview offers a helpful illustration. (I used editorial license to convert one phrase from crass to non-offensive.)

CP: Sociologist Peter Berger famously remarked that if Sweden is the most secular country and India is the most religious country, America has become a nation of Indians ruled by Swedes. [Berger] added how many of the problems of America have to do with the fact that the Indians have become increasingly angry at the Swedes. In some ways, your book seems to present a correlate to that: the Swedes have become increasingly angry at the Indians. Do you agree?

Yancey: I think that is a great way to think about it. I would put it this way: Because of their numbers the Indians historically had a lot of political and cultural power in our society. They may not be in the elite political positions but the Swedes in those positions could not afford to ignore what they wanted. The Swedes for years documented the excesses and biases of the Indians. Over time, they begin to look down on the Indians. But they also gained educational and cultural power and begin to ignore the concerns of the Indians. But the Swedes never considered that many of the social processes that produce bigotries in the Indians also can produce bigotries in themselves. They became quite adept at seeing social dysfunctions in the Indians but not in themselves. While part of the reason for this book is to provide some insight to protect the Indians, I also see it useful for helping the Swedes engage in the introspection they need to deal with their own failings and to live by their own stated values.


For more information, besides reading their book, there is a three-part interview with George Yancey starting here:
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/blackwhiteandgray/2014/11/christianophobia-in-the-united-states-part-1/


** As always, the opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and in no way reflect the philosophies or principles of Williamson County Public Library, its staff members, their parents, children, friends, or housepets.

Two New Books for Privacy

By Lance Hickerson, Reference Department

61McfPOZDqLAs discussed in my previous article, it’s important to keep your information safe. In addition to good advice online, there are some new books in the library that might be of interest to our patrons. One is entitled, 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before … Your Identity Was Stolen (The 99 Series, 2014) by Robert Siciliano. The author provides clear explanations concerning types of identity theft as well as ways to protect yourself online.

He covers “99 Things” in the form of questions, like, for instance question # 18: “How would Cybercriminals Go After Me?” His answer includes the following:

  • If the wireless Internet connection in your home or office is not secure, you’re vulnerable.
  • If the operating system on your computer is not up to date, you’re vulnerable.
  • If the browser on your computer is outdated, you’re vulnerable.
  • If, while on your own computer, you visit risky websites or online gaming sites that are hosted in foreign countries, you’re vulnerable.
  • If you download pirated software, movies, or music, you’re vulnerable.
  • If you engage in illicit activities on the Internet, you’re vulnerable.
  • Even if all of your security software is updated, if you enter credit card information into a website that is not properly secured, you’re vulnerable.
  • If you enter your Social Security Number into a website that is not properly secured, you’re vulnerable.
  • If you provide you data to a company that believes they are fully secure, but whose employees might open phishing email that can compromise their entire network, you’re vulnerable”   (pp. 30-31).

Throughout the book, the author relates a wealth of data, like the following regarding simple passwords: “When 32 million passwords were exposed in a breach last year, almost 1 percent of victims were using 123456. The next most popular password was 12345. Other common choices are 111111, princess, qwerty, and abc123. Avoid these types of passwords, which are easily guessed” (p. 166).

51V1ngQ19JL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_A second new book of interest to our patrons is Cyber self-defense : expert advice to avoid online predators, identity theft, and cyberbullying (Lyons Press, 2014) by Alexis Moore and Laurie Edwards. The book is rich in practical insight and personality profiles helping readers identify persons of concern. In discussing “How to Avoid Becoming a Cyberattack Victim,” she gives several pages of helpful action steps. Among her suggestions:

  • Install spyware protection.
  • Create a junk mail account.
  • Use special screen and email names.
  • Do not fill out all the fields when registering online.
  • Read and monitor privacy policies.
  • Ask friends and family to be cautious about posting your private information.
  • Choose unusual answers for your security questions.
  • Don’t open emails or click on links from strangers.
  • Use only a secure, designated PC for online banking.
  • If you think you have a cyberstalker, move fast. (pp. 161 – 165).

Author Robert Siciliano above points out two important numbers: the average time victims spend repairing their lives from new fraudulent accounts is 165 hours, while the average time victims spent repairing their existing accounts is 58 hours (p. 9). Just a few minutes of prevention following tips from these two books could save hours of cure.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

By Lindsay Roseberry, Reference DepartmentReadyPlayerOne RD 1 finals 2

Wade Watts is a normal teenager growing up in the Midwest on the future Earth in 2044, after the nation’s collapse.   He is an orphan, living with his aunt, and attending high school online. He plugs into the OASIS, a virtual galaxy of planets and worlds. The creator of the OASIS, James Halliday, died not long past and left no heirs. Instead, he set up an Easter Egg (a hidden message with clues) in the OASIS, with the instructions that the one who finds this egg is his heir. Heir to the OASIS, heir to his programming technology and heir to his millions.

Of course, this sets off a massive stampede of all ages to find the egg. There is even a nickname for these tireless searchers – egg hunters, which was shortened to “gunter” over time. All serious gunters knew that Halliday loved everything about the 1980s. They all studied as much as they could to learn everything about that particular decade—playing all the games, watching all the movies, reading all the books. Even though Wade is in high school, the OASIS is infinitely more fun and exciting that real life and he is a dedicated gunter.

When he is the first to find the first clue, the story really heats up. There are villains, allies, unexpected friends, danger, excitement, escapes and more to be found in the OASIS. This book was such a quick read. You will want to know what happens and keep reading. Wade (Parzival in the OASIS) leads the reader on a chase through the 1980s to solve three three-step riddles and save the OASIS from the evil Innovative Online Industries, which wants control of OASIS. If you like audio books, I suggest you download the e-audio book from READS; Wil Wheaton (Wesley Crutcher in Star Trek: Next Generation) reads the story and it is very well done.

The film rights to Ready Player One were purchased by Warner Brothers the same day the book was signed to be published. It will directed by Stephen Spielberg!

 


Ready Player One is a science fiction and dystopian novel by Ernest Cline. The book was published by Random House on August 16, 2011.[1] The audiobook is narrated by Wil Wheaton. In 2012, the book received an Alex Award from the Young Adult Library Services Association division of the American Library Association[2] and won the 2012 Prometheus Award.[3] 

Info above from wikipedia…

THE BEES by Laline Paull

laline-paull-the-bees-UK-2014By Sharon Reily, Reference Department

On the outside, it’s just an unassuming wooden box. But inside are vast chambers with amber walls, elegant royal quarters, secret passageways, and a charming royal nursery. Ruling over this magnificent structure is a beautiful queen, whose fragrance insures the love and blind devotion of her followers. It sounds like a traditional fairytale, but The Bees is set in a beehive, and the characters are the 10,000 honeybees who call it home.

The heroine of this mesmerizing debut novel by Laline Paull is Flora 717, a worker bee whose job in sanitation makes her the lowest of the low in a very rigid caste society. Flora 717 and her sisters in sanitation are literally the “untouchables,” and their main duty is disposing of the bodies of dead bees from the hive’s morgue. But there’s something different about Flora – she’s big, dark, and ugly. She’s also strong, intelligent, brave, resourceful, and fiercely devoted to her hive and queen. As others begin to recognize these surprising traits, Flora 717 is allowed to move up through the ranks of bee society. As she gets access to levels most maintenance workers never see, readers gain insight into the workings of different parts of the hive, including the nursery and even the queen’s private chambers. Flora finally wins a place with the foragers, whose vital mission is to gather nectar and pollen. Paull’s stunning descriptions of how the foragers experience the outside world and interact with flowers are sometimes delightful and sometimes frightening.

Life for bees isn’t easy. In fact, it’s downright brutal. The world is a dangerous place full of “the Myriad” – all the creatures who threaten the hive. Humans are a major menace, with their encroaching developments and pesticides that kill plants, pests and bees alike. Even the benevolent beekeeper who loves his bees wreaks devastating and heartbreaking havoc when he collects honey. Mysterious diseases cause entire hives to collapse. Most horrifying of all is the way the bees treat each other in order to maintain their social system. As the hive faces one calamity after another, Flora’s drive to protect her home and sisters keeps her in peril.

Loyal Flora embodies the hive’s mantra – Accept, Obey, and Serve. But when she makes a shocking discovery about herself, she begins to question the hive’s strict laws and hierarchy. As a result, Flora takes action that could put her and the hive in grave danger.

The Bees succeeds on many levels. It’s a fascinating look at the “hive mentality” and the way a beehive functions. It’s a great tale of adventure and a suspenseful and sometimes terrifying story of the struggle to survive. There’s also comic relief provided by the foppish male drones. But most of all, it’s the exciting, inspiring and touching story of brave Flora 717. After reading The Bees I’ll never again look at a tiny honeybee or taste a teaspoon of honey without thinking of this endearing character and her sisters.

The Water and the Wild by Katie E. Ormsbee

51IWu+0o1kL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_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

The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

By Robin Ebelt, Reference Assistant813iibgF3CL._SL1500_

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.

The Storied Life of A J Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

9781616203214_custom-1248f47d7cb47c8f90ffeacbcdc3bf065de3f59b-s6-c30By 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.

Carol O’Connell’s Mallory novels

By Lindsay Roseberry, Reference Librarian

OConnellC-KM-Group01UK_thumb[3]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.

kathy-mallory

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