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Posts Tagged ‘Fiction’

The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel

by Morgan Reeves on June 30th, 2014
The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel Cover Image

Trains, Sasquatches, and a circus make for an exciting combination in this steampunk adventure story from Kenneth Oppel. During the late 1800′s in Canada, Will Everett grows up witnessing the expansion of the continental railroads as the son of the railway company manager. A shy boy with a talent for drawing, he has always wished for adventure, but never seems to find it. Now on the maiden voyage of The Boundless, the longest train ever built, his adventure finally begins, as he witnesses a murder. In order to stay alive and warn his father about the criminal plot, Will disguises himself as part of a circus with the help of an old acquaintance. He teams up with Maren, the highrope walker from his past, and Mr. Dorian, the circus ringmaster who has an agenda of his own. Together, they try to reach the front of the seven mile train before the criminal gang catches them. The journey, full of perils both magical and real, puts Will’s drawing skills and new friendships to the test. As the train reach the snowy mountains, danger finally catches up to the circus trio, and not everyone will escape uninjured.

The only hitch in this otherwise fantastic story, is the present tense narration takes some getting used to for most readers. Overall this is a page turning story bolstered by mild fantasy elements and plenty of detail from a lesser-known period of history, with some edge of your seat moments that lead to a suspenseful climax.

For the Twi-Hards and other lovers of bloodsuckers

by Melody Dworak on May 27th, 2014
For the Twi-Hards and other lovers of bloodsuckers Cover Image

True Blood fans waiting for the final season to start on June 22 have lots of other vampire works they can explore. The recent spate of popular vampire stories has a rich past, and the curious can learn all about it in How to Kill a Vampire: Fangs in Folklore, Film, and Fiction by Liisa Ladouceur. Read the rest of this entry »

The Last Wild by Piers Torday

by Morgan Reeves on May 23rd, 2014
The Last Wild by Piers Torday Cover Image

Like many children, Kester Jaynes feels powerless, and without much choice in what goes on in his daily life. Kester’s situation is unique in that he is mute; he has no voice. He lives in a world where all of the useful animals and plants have died off due to “red eye,” a terrible plague. Only “varmints,” pigeons, rats, and cockroaches are left alive. Fear of the virus has led to a taboo against touching animals. Food has been replaced by the corrupt Facto corporation with a nutritional slime and the entire human population has been forced to live in cities for their own protection.

Six years ago Kester was kidnapped and brought to live in a home for troubled children, where he is told something is wrong with him. When he starts to hear voices, he thinks he has finally gone crazy. Reality though is even stranger, the voices turn out to belong to a cockroach and pigeons, who help him escape and bring him to a gathering spot of the last surviving animals. These are the last wild; the last living animals and they need Kester’s help. Their leader, a large stag, asks Kester to find them a cure. While Kester feels unprepared for the weight of such a task, he promises to try. He even has an idea of where to start, by finding his way back to his veterinarian father. But traveling with animals that society both covets and fears leads to some dangerous situations. As Kester is forced to make more and more decisions, his self-confidence grows. By the end he has found both his father and his voice, but tensions remain as the cure is not wanted by the food controlling Facto corporation.

Overall an imaginative take on a dystopian world that will strike a chord with kids who are starting to make their own choices.

A Snicker of Magic

by Morgan Reeves on April 29th, 2014
A Snicker of Magic Cover Image

Felicity Pickle is a poem catcher, a word collector, and a wanderer longing for a place to call home. When her mother decides to try moving the family to Midnight Gulch, Tennessee, Felicity is hopeful that this might finally be the place where they can settle down. After all, it’s her mother’s hometown, as well as still having just a bit of magic floating around. On her first day at her new school, Felicity makes a new friend, Jonah, who has the not-so-secret occupation of helping people when they really need something. When Jonah suggests she read one of her poems in the school talent show, Felicity agrees, even though she knows she gets stage fright. The family settles in with gruff Aunt Cleo, who shows her softer side in telling stories of the family’s history. It soon becomes apparent that Felicity’s performance in the talent show is the key to shaking off the wandering ways of the Pickle family, which may be tied to a curse tied up in the history of Midnight Gulch. The cast of vibrant characters leap off the page  in this middle-grade tale of tangled up history and yes, just a snicker of magic. To cap off the end of National Poetry Month, give this great read about the meaning of family and home a try.

Springtime = bugs!

by Hannah Kane on April 2nd, 2014

Looking for your next weekend read? I have a great springy one for you. In Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith, the end of the world is nigh. Austin Szerba, his girlfriend Shann, and his best friend Robby live in fictional Ealing, Iowa. The trio occupy themselves the same way most small-town 16-year-olds do — skateboarding, eating pizza, driving into Waterloo to see movies, and trying to figure out who they are and what they want out of life.

But their world is turned upside-down when giant praying mantises rampage through Ealing. The big bugs are hungry — for PEOPLE. This tale of survival, friendship, identity, and growing up has a sense of Vonnegut-esque humor so fresh that once I started, I couldn’t put it down. Check out the catalog record here to learn more and place a hold!

Plus, it’s green. REALLY green.

Throwback Thursday…and a beer!

by Candice Smith on March 6th, 2014

So, this pBYOBookast Tuesday, I found myself wanting to discuss a good book and  have a nice beer. That happens to me often on Tuesdays…wait, what did you say? You too??!!

Well, you’re in luck! Get ready for B.Y.O.Book, the Library’s new books in bars book club. One Tuesday during each of the next three months we’re going to meet in a local bar, discuss some literature, maybe have a drink and meet some like-minded readers. First on the agenda is Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. It’s a long book, I know, but by now a lot of you might have already read it; if not, stop by the Reference Desk and grab a copy. Then, meet us on Tuesday, March 18 at 7 p.m. at the Sanctuary Pub.

To get started, here’s the blog I did about the book on January 15, 2010.

The English Major

by Brent Palmer on February 28th, 2014
The English Major Cover Image

I recently made a good find in the Book End: The English Major by Jim Harrison.  Although the title makes it sound like an epic love story set in colonial Africa, it couldn’t be farther from the truth. It’s a true American travel story.

Harrison fans who love his character Brown Dog will identify with the protagonist, Cliff, who has same down-to-earth way of looking at things, a love of the Michigan outdoors and a cluelessness about women (that somehow seems to work for both of them).  Unlike BD, he was once a lit teacher with a love of books. But he became disenchanted with literature and eschewed the intellectual life for a pastoral one when his wife inherited a cherry farm in northern Michigan.

The story, which opens after his marriage falls apart, takes the form of a kind of travel diary.  Mourning the loss of his dog and his cherry farm (his wife sells it to a developer), he sets out for a cathartic road trip to visit every state.  Along the way, he hooks up with an former female student, reconnects with his son and has some raucous adventures with his fishing buddy.  As he winds his way across the west, he is forced to reexamine his life and marriage with honesty. Although Cliff doesn’t make it to every state, with some help from his ex-wife, he figures out how to put together a new life.

One More Thing by B.J. Novak

by Melody Dworak on February 27th, 2014
One More Thing by B.J. Novak Cover Image

Hi, guys. I made a Storify of people talking about B. J. Novak’s new book One More Thing. Long story short: I loved it, and others did too. Visit this —> Storify post <— to see the buzz this new book is getting.

Getting lost in Lost Lake

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on February 12th, 2014
Getting lost in Lost Lake Cover Image

I discovered Sarah Addison Allen’s work about five years ago, devouring her first two books — Garden Spells and The Sugar Queen — in just a few days. I had to wait for her to publish more, but my patience paid off with two more great stories: The Girl Who Chased the Moon: A Novel and The Peach Keeper: A Novel.

I was not aware that Allen was set to release a new book in 2014, but when I did, I was thrilled to learn it was already out and the Library had it on stock!

Lost Lake is a story about people who are at a turning point in their lives, but are unsure of which way to go. It seems fitting that this group of misfits  have such ties to a run-down summer hideaway called Lost Lake.

Owner Eby Prim loves Lost Lake, but time has taken its toll on her and the cabins that used to house vacationing families. Restless, she agrees to sell the property, but her last summer takes an unexpected turn when her grand-niece arrives. Struggling with the death of her husband, Kate Pheris needs direction and her precocious daughter, Devin, needs to freedom.

Three generations of women, plus a scattering of supporting characters to add mystery, humor and depth, make Lost Lake a treasure worth finding.

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

by Candice Smith on January 15th, 2010
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel Cover Image

Wolf Hall was recently named the winner of the 2009 Man Booker prize for fiction, and all of a sudden there were all these glowing reviews about a book I’d never heard of. Having finished it the other night, I can say they were spot-on!

Mantel re-imagines the court of Henry VIII, through the eyes and voice of Thomas Cromwell. Those of you who watch The Tudors are probably up on who Cromwell is. Many of you might have some sort of inkling of the statesman who made it possible for Henry to marry Anne Boleyn and helped dissolve the Catholic monasteries. (If you thought he was someone who caused a wee bit o’ trouble in Ireland, you’ve got the wrong Cromwell.) Cromwell is widely remembered for his calculating mind and ruthless ambition, but Mantel portrays him in full and he benefits from it. For sure, he’s all about the numbers, and knowing who owns what, and how that can help the king (and himself).  Here, we also see a man who is scarred by a miserable childhood, who loves his wife and children, who is fond of good food and culture, and who is loyal to those he serves.

One of the best things about this book is the feeling of ‘knowing’ that you get while reading it. Many events that are described have weight and a sense of direction–the moment Henry is told that the baby is not a boy, or when Cromwell first meets the young Jane Seymour–and they inexorably lead towards that day in Cromwell’s future that we already know about. Wolf Hall ends well before that moment, and I think it’s a testament to Mantel’s powerful writing that I was happy to not see the end of Thomas Cromwell.