Friday, June 10, 2011

One for the Money

by Janet Evanovich, 334 pages

Stephanie Plum is laid-off, broke, and pawning her possessions to get by.  After her car gets repossessed, she decides to hit-up her slime ball cousin Vinnie for a job at his bail bonds agency.  Enter Stephanie the bounty hunter.  She has no idea what she's doing, but she figures the $10,000 pay off for catching cop turned suspected murder, Joe Morelli, is worth a little on the job training.  But things quickly turn from bad to worse, when champion fighter and suspected rapist, Benito Ramirez, catches Stephanie in his sights.

This book is full of laugh out loud moments and plenty of excitement.  I love recommending this series to patrons, because I figure almost everyone will have a good time reading it.

Hit List

by Laurell K. Hamilton, 320 pages

Anita Blake, Federal Marshall and vampire hunter, has once again teamed up with Edward to investigate a string of murders in the Pacific Northwest.  Only this time she knows who the culprits are, but due to some very dangerous and archaic vampire laws, Anita can't reveal their identity without risking the lives of the police she is helping.  An even larger danger lurks behind the masked murders, one that won't stop she has Anita in her power.

"Hit List" is a fast-paced paranormal thriller (although not for the faint of heart- or stomach!)  Hamilton is great with the gritty action, and no-details-spared descriptions, so I always look forward to her books.  This one was a quicker read, and the major threat that's been building for the last 9 books or so, comes to a head.  I have to say, I was a bit disappointed with how quickly (and easily) everything was resolved.  Hopefully, Hamilton comes up with some new scary bogeyman for the next one.

Just Like Heaven

by Julia Quinn, 384 pages

Honoria Smyth-Smith knows that her family's annual musical is a disaster. Each year, four Smyth-Smith cousins gather to butcher Mozart in the most appalling manner possible.  But Honoria feels it's her duty to support the family tradition with a smile... even if it means scaring off suitors.  She and her cousins hope a house party near Oxford will be enough to attract the attention of a few bachelors.  When an old family friend, Marcus Holroyd, turns up in town Honoria encourages him to stay away from the party as he always seems to scare away suitors.  However, Marcus has promised Honoria's brother that he'd keep an eye on her which might require more effort than he'd planned on expending.

Quinn's stories are funny and heartwarming, and "Just Like Heaven" lives up to her usual flair.  Her characters are quirky and lovable, and the story had me turning pages to the very end!

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

by J. K. Rowling, 341 pages

Harry can't wait to get back to Hogwarts and away from the Dursleys. Unfortunately, he hasn't heard from his friends all summer.  His only contact with the wizarding world is a house elf who is determined to stop Harry from returning to school.  Things get worse when a mysterious Chamber of Secrets is opened at the school and the monster within starts attacking students.  Harry and his friends must solve the mystery before it's too late.

Rowling is fun, imaginative and always a thrill to read.  I love the experience of revisiting all those little details that can be found in a book, but don't quite make it to the movie.  My sisters and I had a movie marathon while  I was on vacation, and went through all the movies over the course of 3 days.  I'm enjoying going back through the books to compare.  I'm going to be completely prepared for the final movie release in July!

Trouble Maker, Book One, A Barnaby and Hooker Graphic Novel

By: Janet Evanovich, 106 pp.

For a twist on Evanovich's mysteries, try her graphic novels. I have very much enjoyed her graphic novels just as much as her other mysteries.

Alex Barnaby (Barney) had never had so much trouble in her life before she met and began dating Sam Hooker.

It just seems that trouble finds them everywhere they go. In this story, Barney's good friend, Rosa, comes up missing and while trying to locate her friend, Barney and Hooker come to find out that the owner of the cigar shop where her friend works, Walter, has also come up missing.
In order to get some idea where Walter might be, Barney and Hooker check out Walter's mailbox and come up with a brown package addressed to Walter. When they open the package, however, it appears to be Rosa's chopped off hand!
This is just the beginning of the events. Check out Trouble Maker by Janet Evanovich to find out more of what is to happen and if Barney and Hooker ever find Rosa alive!

The Husband

By Dean Koontz, 400 pp.

I was shocked at how this story ends! I could not put this down! If I had to put it down, I just kept thinking about how I could go back and read more!
This was an amazing read by Koontz. Normally, I do not like his work much, but this one was recommended to me by a patron, so I thought, "Why not?"
I am so glad I did! If there is not a movie out of this story, there should be!

Mitch Rafferty and his wife, Holly Rafferty, live in a small bungalow in California. Mitch owns his own business of landscaping and gardening, and Holly is working as a receptionist at a real estate office while she works on getting her real estate license. So you see they do not make much money...
However, for some reason, someone kidnaps Holly thinking they can get two million dollars from Mitch for ransom!
As Mitch is frantic and feeling useless and vulnerable while awaiting the kidnappers calls on what to do next, he is discovering some family secrets among his own family. Find out what these secrets are in "The Husband" by Dean Koontz! You will be just as surprised and astonished as I was!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Swamplandia! by Karen Russell

Swamplandia! is a tourist attraction in swampy Florida where a family of alligator wrestlers and showpeople have thrilled audiences for many years.  Hilola Bigtree makes a splash, literally, by jumping from a tall platform into a pit of alligators and swimming to safety several times a day.  But when Hilola is downed by cancer instead of alligators, the family is sent into a tailspin and they scatter, each according to their own way into pilgrimages strange, damaging, and sometimes enlightening.  There's more than a little magical realism in this book and some beautifully lyrical words.  It's hard not to see this story as a cautionary tale for all of us and the world at large rather than just the small insulated world of Swamplandia!  That makes it all the more poignant and scary. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

"The Dispossessed" by Ursula K. LeGuin

387 pages

About two hundred years before this story begins, a group of anarchists from the planet Urras settled on their moon--Arannes--after the government promised not to interfere with their society if they left and didn't start a revolution on Urras. The story begins with Shevek, a theoretical physicist, leaving his home "planet" of Arannes (even though it is a moon, it has it's own atmosphere and is therefore often referred to as a twin planet) for an extended trip to Urras. Some of his fellow citizens are angry at him for leaving, as he is the first person in 170 years to travel to Urras and many still feel resentment toward the Urrasti society. Shevek is leaving to work on his General Temporal Theory, which involves looking at time as more complex than the linear way we understand it (honestly, that is about all I was able to understand about it). Although he appreciates many parts of his anarchist society, as he tried to develop and share his scientific ideas he found himself facing hierarchical pressure from other physicists--basically, he discovered a power structure that is not supposed to exist on his planet. He is also frustrated by his planet's self-imposed isolation from the rest of the universe, as he believes that ideas should be shared for the progress of all. In going to Urras, Shevek thinks he will be part of the reconnection of the two planets. However, although the Urrasti try to hide it, he soon discovers that the planet has its own set of problems--and that some of his hosts have a not-so-noble ulterior motive for inviting him.

It took me a long time to get into this book, and I'm not sure that I would have finished it had I not been leading a book discussion on it. I think that the world the LeGuin has created is unique and interesting, but the story itself didn't hold my attention. There's not a lot of action and I expected more of that from this type of story. On the other hand, I am glad that I finished "The Dispossessed." I like that LeGuin shows both the benefits and major problems with both the anarchist society and the capitalist society. This book examines a lot of interesting ideas and will be making me think for a while.

Sea of Silver Light (Otherland: 4)

by Tad Williams
(2001 | 922 p)

In "Sea of Silver Light," book four in the "Otherland" tetrology, Tad Williams wraps up his massive sci-fi saga.

Four big books in eight medium-sized sentences:
In a not so distant future children across the globe are being lost to unexplainable comas. For South African college professor Renie Sulaweyo, whose baby brother Stephen is among those affected, the horror of this epidemic is all too real. Researching Stephen's condition leads Renie to the Otherland, a massively complex virtual reality network that is powered by a nearly sentient operating system known as the Other. Its architects? A secretive group of affluent and aged elites who refer to themselves as the Grail Brotherhood. In an attempt to save Stephen, Renie and her friend, !Xabbu, find a way into this exclusive network. Once in Otherland the pair discover others on similar quests... and one whose ambitions are the stuff of nightmares. Our adventurers soon learn that they are trapped in the Otherland and, although the environments are simulated, the dangers are all too real.

My take:
I had a great time following the characters as they progressed through their adventures in this series. They were an interesting and diverse collection of protagonists and their various relationships (both romantic and not) tugged at my heartstrings. My favorite character was Orlando, a teenager suffering from the late stages of Progeria. Orlando uses the virtual reality environment of the Net to experience a freedom that he was denied in his dying body. I don't want to give too much away, but I feel that Orlando was the true hero of this series.

The virtual world where most of this story takes place allowed Williams to stretch the boundaries of science fiction. Purely fantastical worlds existed in an entirely science fiction based virtual reality environment, making for a fun mix of the genres. The best of both worlds in my humble opinion. The plot is delightfully intricate and the page count just goes on and on. Loved it.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

by J. K. Rowling, 309 pages

I'm sure we all know the story by know, but just in case you've been living on Mars for the last 14 years:

Harry Potter has possibly the worst family ever.  His aunt and uncle hate anything and anyone out of the ordinary and continually find fault with Harry for not being normal. He has to live in a cupboard under the stairs and wear his very large cousin's hand-me downs. Added to that, he doesn't have any friends because everyone is terrified to cross his bully of a cousin, and Dudley's favorite pastime is picking on Harry.  His miserable existence changes with the unexpected revelation that Harry is really a wizard.  When he leaves to go to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Harry is an instant celebrity for events that happened when he was only a baby.  Along with his fame comes the threat of an old enemy, one who strikes fear into the hearts of witches and wizards everywhere.

I'm using the upcoming release of the final Harry Potter movie as an excuse to re-read one of my favorite series.  My husband saw me with this book and asked, "Haven't you read all those books like four times already?"   Well, yes, but a good book is just as thrilling the fifth time around as the first.  And I think that's all the endorsement I need to offer.

May Winners!

May 2011 Winners

Total books read: 127
Total pages: 36,079
Total staff contributing in May: 15

Most books read:
Jenny E. 40
Chelsea 14
Heather 13

Most pages read:
Jenny E. 8377
Chelsea 4696
Heather 3890

Participation points:
Jenny 40
Chelsea 35
Aleah 18

Best review: Heather's zombie haiku review

Challenge winner(most nonfiction read): Chelsea

New victim...errr participant award:  Kathi 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


by Thierry Jonquet
translated by Donald Nicholson-Smith
129 pgs

I have a thing for books that have been made into movies. So, when I overheard a conversation about the movie based on Mygale, I had to read it. Though the movie is very controversial and has mixed reviews, I wish I hadn't known about the premise before I read this book. The mystery and twist were ruined by my prior knowledge, so I won't reveal much in this post.

Richard Lafarque is a brilliant and deeply disturbed plastic surgeon. Though his professional life is flourishing, his personal life is quite sinister. His daughter is in a mental institution and he has trouble dealing with it. He keeps his female companion locked up and only brings her out to parade her around or abuse her in unspeakable ways. As the story progresses, clues about how he became the way he is, why he treats his companion this way and why his daughter is in an institution are revealed. This noir thriller with a psycho-sexual edge is twisted enough to keep you interested and guessing until the last pages.