Blog Archives

Evidence of Things Unseen by Marianne Wiggins

cvr9780743258098_9780743258098_hrBy Lindsay Roseberry, Reference Librarian

Fos and Opal find each other serendipitously, since neither would have been a great catch.  Fos was nearly blinded by mustard gas in WWI, which sometimes hindered his work with bioluminescence and radium; Opal was a spinster and lived in back country North Carolina. They met while Fos was going home to watch the Perseid meteor shower on the Carolina coast.  They settled in Knoxville; Fos and his war buddy Flash opened a photographer’s shop.  On weekends, they went to county fairs and showed off the newest sensation—X-rays! They never did well in their photography business, but it wasn’t until Flash got in trouble with the law that they went bust.  Their son, Lightfoot, was their pride and joy when their knowledge led them to help form Oak Ridge.  Lightfoot tells the rest of the story, trying to figure out what happened to his parents. He finds Flash in prison, and learns more about his parents. When Flash is released, they travel together across the country. At the end, Lightfoot too, finds love serendipitously, but on the west coast.

I found this book compelling and intriguing. I am relatively new to Tennessee and knew nothing about the history of Knoxville. Fos and Opal have a great relationship. I never knew that X-rays were county fair material.   There is a fuzzy, cloudy quality to the words, partly I suspect to show how Fos saw the world. He sees how cloudy or soft light reflects on and off things and people. Luminescence in many forms plays a role throughout the book. This is a satisfying story of a loving couple living and working in the early 1900s in Tennessee, and their son who finds his way to adulthood almost alone.

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Sheriff of Yrnameer by Michael Rubens

indxBy Lindsay Roseberry, Reference Librarian

If you like humorous science fiction, I recommend The Sheriff of Yrnameer. This is Mr. Rubens’ first novel, but he has had plenty of experience with comedy while working on the Daily Show with John Stewart.

Cole is an opportunist, shady pilot and a thief; when we meet him he is between a rock and a hard place. A relentless tentacled bounty hunter named Kenneth has found him and his spaceship has been particalized by a robot for parking illegally. He really needs a way out. And he finds it unexpectedly—he high jacks a ship going to Yrnameer. The only problem is Yrnameer is known to be non-existent, and then there’s the whole issue of the twelve (no, make that eleven) bad men and becoming the sheriff…

Mr. Rubens writes like Douglas Adams with a dose of Terry Pratchett. Imagine an American version of these two authors writing about a much seedier Han Solo, and you can imagine the fun involved in reading this book.

The Rook by Daniel O’Malley

The-Rook-194x300By Lindsay Roseberry, Reference Librarian

Imagine waking up in a park with a ring of dead people around you. You have no memory of who you are, where you are or why you are surrounded by dead people with latex gloves on their hands. As you go through your pockets, you find an envelope with a letter inside. “Dear You, the body you’re in used to be mine…” is how the letter starts. Decisions need to be made and many letters have to be read. Agent Thomas learns she works in a secret organization—kind of like Her Majesty’s Supernatural Secret Service (think British Men in Black.)

The reader learns along with the amnesiac what happened and who she is. She finds out through letters written by her former self that she has lots of money, some sort of pet named Wolfgang and deadly enemies. She has to get up to speed quickly—people are trying to kill her.

I enjoyed this book—hard to believe this novel is Mr. O’Mallye’s first book. If you like wry humor, interesting paranormal monsters, and great fantasy fun, you should read this book. It is a little long, but moves quickly.

The War that Killed Achilles: the true story of Homer’s Iliad and the Trojan War By Caroline Alexander.

9780670021123_custom-6a502cede7d6bcb9959048d49d9ed3377fe36778-s2-c85By Lindsay Roseberry, Reference Librarian

Ms. Alexander, the author of The Bounty; the true story of the mutiny on the Bounty and The Endurance: Shackleton’s Legendary Antarctic Expedition, has written another riveting account of an historical event, even though the Trojan War is often thought to be mythical. Alexander reveals the story part by part, giving historical background and quoting the epic in large chunks. She explains where Achilles came from, why he is the main character, and why after two millennia we still read and remember this epic poem. I would recommend this for those interested in ancient history, and even for those who are just trying to write a paper on the Trojan War. It kept my attention, and I even looked up some of the footnotes. It turns out there is evidence that Aeneas really did go to the Italian peninsula from Troy.

Welcome back, Paks!

indexBy Lindsay Roseberry, Reference Librarian

Fans of Elizabeth Moon’s books featuring the heroine Paksenarrion will rejoice, as I did, when I heard that the author will be continuing the story of Paks in another trilogy. The first trilogy tells the story of Paksenarrion, a girl who doesn’t want to be a shepherd, so she runs away to become a soldier. She joins a tightly run mercenary troop, learns how to fight, becomes an outstanding soldier, works her way up the ranks while the troop fights Orcs, magic and evil, is knighted and is called to be a paladin.

When the first volume came out, some reviewers said Moon was following in Tolkien’s footsteps. While it is true there are Orcs, Elves and Dwarves, these tale are usually about the world of men. Moon is a former Marine, and her experiences certainly help make the novels more realistic, in a fantasy milieu. The first trilogy is comprised of Sheepfarmer’s Daughter, Divided Allegiance and Oath of Gold. The first book in this new series is Oath of Fealty. I recommend these titles if you like high fantasy, with a developed world, full of battles, magic, gods and kings.

Advent by James Treadwell

12484258By Lindsay Roseberry, Reference Librarian

Advent draws you in slowly, starting with Dr. John Faust who delves into science (and magic) and makes his famous pact. He falls for a mysterious woman, but he also covets her magic and knowledge. When she mistakenly trusts him, he steals her gifts and disappears from time. In the modern world, Gavin, a fifteen year old boy, on his way to visit his aunt, realizes that the mysterious woman who is always around him, but invisible to others, actually exists. She tells him he is the one to succeed her. It takes a while for him to realize that with the succession magic has become real. Things become dicey for Gavin, his aunt and his new friends when magic is released and walks amongst the people of a small town in Cornwall. And Dr. John Faust returns, ready to finally use his magic—for the ill of all mankind.

We know a sequel is coming because loose ends remain, plus a there is a veiled hint from Corvo (a sometimes malevolent giant crow) that Gavin will need guidance.  I enjoyed this novel; especially once I began to understand who the mysterious woman was. Linking her to Dr. Faust and the current world was an interesting idea. I haven’t felt so cold reading a book in a long time. I look forward to the next installment.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer

51X-kOQpRsL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_By Lindsay Roseberry, Reference Librarian

William Kamkwamba was born in 1987 and grew up in a rural village in Malawi. His family were farmers, generally making a little extra money with their crops of corn and tobacco, but often doing without. William had to drop out of elementary school because the family couldn’t afford the school fees.   He missed going to school but was happier when he found the tiny local library (6 shelves of books, all donated from other countries.) The books Explaining Physics and Using Energy changed his world. With help from a friend and a dictionary he learned about science and invention. .He learned about wind mills and how they could generate electricity. He thought about how much electricity would help his family: his mother wouldn’t have to go two hours away for firewood if they had a way to heat water with electricity; his father could grow two crops using irrigation by pumping water with an electric pump and they could have lights in the house. He started experimenting–he built a small wind mill first. He started scrounging for materials in an abandoned lot. He often didn’t have money; sometimes his friends helped out, other times he had to work several days to be able to buy a certain parts. He finally built his first windmill at the age of 15 in 2002. Much of his village had doubts about his sanity, until he lit a car light bulb with the electricity from his windmill. Word spread quickly about his accomplishment. An article was written about him in 2006 in a Malawi newspaper and word spread quickly In 2009 he went to Ghana to talk about his windmill. He was then invited to go

Sister by Rosamund Lupton

sister-rosamund-lupton-ebook-e6e66By Lindsay Roseberry, Reference Librarian

Bee (Arabella Beatrice) received a frantic phone call from her mother—her sister Tess was missing. She took a leave of absence and flew back to England to help figure out what had happened.   Bee knew her sister wouldn’t have left London being eight months pregnant. She knew something had happened to her. But no one could find a thing. She asked Tess’ married boyfriend, she found the photographer obsessed with Tess’ beauty and she found her friends. When Tess is found, the police pronounce it suicide. Bee knows that couldn’t be true and continues her investigation. The further she investigates, the more she believes her sister was murdered.

Ms. Lupton writes in the first person, which I find more direct and personal. I had to read this book for a book club, but I liked it more than I thought I would. It drew me in, kept drawing me in until I had to finish regardless of time.

Break Down by Sara Paretsky

By Lindsay Roseberry, Reference Librarianbreakdown

V I (Vic) Warshawski’s cousin, Petra, called her, asking her to find a group of girls in her book group who were meeting secretly in an abandoned cemetery for some sort of ceremony. Some of them were from prominent families, and Petra hoped Vic could find them and get them home safely. Everything was fine until one of the girls thought she saw a vampire, ran scared and nearly fell on a man impaled on a ledger stone. Who was the man and was it a coincidence that he was killed where the girls were? The connections spread out like a spider web, and if V I Warshawski didn’t take great care, she would be caught up in it.

I hadn’t read a Sara Paretsky detective novel in quite a while. I was intrigued by the plot. I wanted to know how the two major events connected. I thought I knew who did it, but there were a few loose ends that threw me. I’ll have to go back and read them in order now.

How Shakespeare Changed Everything by Stephen Marche

By Lindsay Roseberry, Reference Librarian

10256891My Mother was a Senior English teacher, so I learned the value of Shakespeare early on. I love the sonnets and enjoy seeing his plays, so I thought I knew a good deal about Shakespeare. I was wrong. Mr. Marche teaches Shakespeare; he must live and breathe it too. I learned so much more about the most famous of English authors. According to the author, most scholars believe he invented over 1700 words, which works out to be around ten percent of his entire vocabulary! He also invented the name Jessica. Who knew? And we have starlings in North America because of Shakespeare. Want to know why? Read the book.
I thoroughly enjoyed How Shakespeare Changed Everything. I even bought my own copy. I recommend this book to anyone who likes reading, literature, plays, language or trivia— actually, just about everyone.

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