Tag Archives: waiting on wednesday

Adult Fiction–New Releases

Since I work in a small branch, I do readers advisory for anyone who walks through the door. Some libraries may not get a lot of requests for book suggestions, but we get a TON. At least three or more times a week an adult asks for suggestions for a “good book” to read. When I’m lucky they are willing to give me more information on what they like, but very often they want to know is if I’ve read any good books lately. Here are some of the adult fiction books I’ve read lately.

Saint’s Gate, Carla Neggers, Saint's Gate This is the kind of book I both enjoy to read and to recommend to patrons. Emma, the main character, works for the FBI, but previously she had been a novitiate at a small convent. She is drawn back there by a mysterious message from one of her former companions, which she is unable to receive before her friend is murdered. While she has tried to put her past behind her, this mystery draws both aspects of her world together and forces her to face who she is, was, and wants to be, all the while making her confront her feelings for Colin a fellow FBI agent. I enjoyed the mystery and the relationship, as well as the details of the art history and restoration. While typically I like more romance, and books that are not in a series, this book will appeal to people who like more of a light helping of romance. I look forward to recommending this book to patrons at the library.

Good Girls Don't (Donovan Brothers Brewery, #1) Good Girls Don’t, Victoria Dahl. The library where I work only adds a limited quantity of Mass Market Paperbacks to the collection, but Dahl is a local author, so I’m making a point to add some copies. I’ve really enjoyed this Donovan Brother’s Brewery series and think the library patrons will also like it. Tessa’s greatest desire is to keep her family together, which means she feels she must do whatever it takes to keep her two brothers from fighting. This desire is brought into tension when she begins to develop a relationship with a cop. The local brewery and local atmosphere (it is set in Colorado, but this could be my back yard) will appeal to local readers.

The Ideal Man Some of my favorite books are Julie Garwood books. She is an author I recommend at the library quite a bit. Romantic suspense is popular and these books are not too intense on the sexuality or violence, something that is very popular in my community.
In The Ideal Man, Garwood takes us on a whirlwind trip from an accidental encounter in the park that plunges our heroine into a world of danger that she thought she had escaped. I found the relationships and suspense to be convincing, but not too intense. I still miss the family drama of some of the earlier romantic suspense, but I felt this was stronger then Sizzle. This book will definitely find a place on our shelves!


Ashfall–or the world is still ending!

Ashfall (Ashfall, #1) Continuing the apocalyptic theme, I recently read an engaging story called Ashfall by Mike Mullins. Alex, a nerdy 16 yr old boy who loves World of Warcraft and karate, stays at home in Iowa for the weekend while his parents and sister go to visit an uncle on his farm in Illinois. He settles in for an uneventful weekend of computer games and junk food when his house is hit by something and starts on fire, trapped under his desk, Alex has to climb out to save himself. This is just the beginning of the action, as Alex is thrown into one bad situation after another. He discovers that a giant volcano has erupted under Yellowstone, but the ash interferes in all communication and Alex is left alone. Determined to find his family in Illinois, Alex sets off on his own–most of his supplies are destroyed in the initial blast. Unprepared and slogging through a drift of ash feet deep, Alex encounters numerous dangers, both starvation, dehydration, violent weather, and violent people.

This is a quick and engrossing read, that caught me from the beginning and didn’t spit me out until the last word. I found myself willing to believe all kinds of crazy things because the story moved so fast and with so much action, only after the story was over did some of the issues start to emerge. Alex is freakishly lucky, he should have died pretty much every chapter–something terrible would happen, and somehow he’d miraculously survive. Just when he was about to starve food would turn up–to such a great degree that I stopped really worrying about if he was going to die. In some ways this is an unusually optimistic apocalyptic vision, people take him in and help him, food turns up, he doesn’t get infections from grievous injury or die from horrendous exposure.

In many ways this is a more action packed variation of Life as We Knew It, but less reflective and less dark. Both feature 16 yr old ordinary kids who face a world that is rapidly changing, but Alex never really has to face the sort of real immediate personal devastation of the destruction. In addition, Ashfall skips right from the blast to a world turned upside down, just vaguely referring to things that happened while Alex is hiding out.

Kids who enjoyed Life as We Knew It will enjoy this as well, but of the two I find Pfeffer’s vision to be more powerful and effective in showing a world falling apart.

Fall Mixed Up

Fall Mixed Up Fall is just around the corner–I fervently hope so. Our fall storytime theme is actually scheduled for August, which happens ALL the time. It is quite hard to talk to kids about seasons changing when it is the hottest days of the year and before school is even back in session. I picked up the e-arc of Fall Mixed Up by Bob Raczka to read thinking of the upcoming season change and storytime theme, and I’m glad I did!

All of the traditional things that make up fall stories are mixed together, starting with the months and ending with the holidays. The words have a nice rhyme and rhythm, and the pictures are full of fun and whimsy. My favorite part is the beginning about the weather, such as:

Apples turn orange.
Pumpkins turn red.
Leaves float up into
blue skies overhead.

There are lots of books about fall, but this is a nice addition. If it was only out in August and not September, I’d like to read it to my preschoolers and older kids not yet back in school. They’d all enjoy sorting out all the mixed up things.

Fashion Kitty and the B.O.Y.S.

Fashion Kitty and the B.O.Y.S. Kiki Kittie is a fashionista. After a disaster with some fashion magazines falling on her, she has the ability to turn into a Fashion Kitty superhero! She saves the day during Fashion Emergencies. In this latest installment, Kiki faces her new nemesis the brother of her good friend. He hates Fashion Kitty and tries various schemes to capture her using his family’s quirky inventions, most notably the Ball of Yellow String. He tries to rally the school for a Catch Fashion Kitty Club, though not everyone realizes he hates her.

This is a fun read, and my first Fashion Kitty book. One aspect I really liked was that though it was a graphic novel, it still had a good balance of text to image. Sometimes there is not much to read, which some people like, but I liked the amount of story that could be expressed with the greater amount of text.

I will be adding this to my juvenile graphic novel collection!

Fish You Were Here

Recently I was ordering some graphic novels for the children’s collection, when I discovered the Pet Shop Private Eye series. This series is a perfect match for our collection, it is funny, easy to read, and doesn’t have any materials questionable for kids. Since graphic novels are told with pictures, it can be difficult to distinguish what is appropriate for children. We had Nancy Drew in our Graphic Novel collection until it became apparent that the written descriptions of crimes were less disturbing then the visual.

In Fish You Were Here the fourth volume of the Pet Shop Private Eye Series, the absent minded shop owner is looking for an assistant. His interviews are silly, with important questions like on a scale of 1 to 10 have you ever ridden a llama? The various animals comment as different candidates come and go. Finally it seems like the perfect candidate has been found. Viola LOVES animals, and seems to be a fount of knowledge, rushing around to help all of the animals and show the shop owner all the things he’s been doing wrong. But when the shop owner leaves, things change and not for the better. The animals must figure out what happened and hopefully get their beloved shop owner back before it is too late!

This is a great entry in a fun series. I’ve only briefly skimmed through the other volumes in the series, and I had no problem picking up this one and starting with little knowledge of the other books.
That is a good feature for me, because it is hard at the library to recommend books if the first in the series is ALWAYS checked out. With this series I feel kids could start at any point. The illustrations are colorful, the text not too complex, and the story is funny. I think this book will appeal to both boys and girls from second grade up.

What a Team!

#03 What a Team! (Mr. Badger & Mrs. Fox) This week I read What a Team!, by Brigitte Luciani, illustrated by Eve Tharlet, it is #3 in the graphic novel series Mr. Badger and Mrs. Fox. Juvenile Graphic novels can be tricky, they have to be simple and age appropriate, while retaining interest. In many ways this series is everything one could want in a graphic novel series, and yet it lacks something important.

In this series, the vocabulary is easy enough for newly independent readers, just beyond early reader level. Certainly the subject matter is above reproach. This installment features new step-siblings struggling to get along, and balance bossiness, with their new relationships. These struggles play out while the badger and fox children, and their friends, decide to build a boat. The illustrations are lovely water colors that nicely evoke the woods and forest animals.

This said, the tale was extremely confusing, because I couldn’t tell the characters apart. Now, I know that starting with the third book in a series might lead to some confusion, but a reader should be able to distinguish which character is talking, what the character’s names are, and what the relationships are. Admittedly, I’m not a huge graphic novel person, but I was a big series reader in my day. I remember the first chapter of every Babysitter’s Club was going over the back story and introducing the characters. While children like to read series with continuing characters, it is important that they be able to pick up who the characters are and to have this reiterated in each book.

Someday I’d like to read the first two to put them in context, but based on this on volume, I am hesitant to add it to the library’s collection.

Review copy received from Netgalley.

Bird in a Box

Bird in a Box Boxing has never been a topic of great interest to me personally. When I was growing up I mostly knew boxing from The Happiest Millionaire and from my dad telling me stories of how he and his dad followed boxers in the late 1950s and 1960s. Even now, my exposure to boxing comes primarily from reading children’s books about Cassius Clay and other famous boxers.

In Bird in a Box, Andrea Pinkney successfully captures not only the drama and excitement of a boxing match, leaving me on the edge of my seat as I followed play by play recounting of boxing matches along with the adults and children who were listening. But she also captures the way that boxing, and especially the boxer Joe Louis, was a focus of depression era African American culture.

The story focuses on three children: Otis, Willie, and Hibernia. Otis and Willie live in an orphanage, though Willie is there escaping an abusive father. Hibernia lives with her father, though her mother is also absent, having left to pursue dreams of fame. Their lives intersect through their love of Joe Louis, but more over through the work of Lilly Wiess, a white woman who works in the orphanage and attends Hibernia’s father’s church. Lilly is an odd character, almost out of place, with ideas that bring her in conflict with those around her. While I like Lily, I wish her character had been explained more fully.

This slim volume would be a nice choice for sports fans and reluctant readers who need a historical fiction recommendation for school. Not a perfect book, but a good choice for public libraries.

What to Expect When You’re Expecting Larvae

What to Expect When You're Expecting Larvae: A Guide for Insect Parents (And Curious Kids) (Expecting Animal Babies) There is something about this title that just reaches out and grabs attention. I added it to my good reads to be read stream and had coworkers outside of children’s services ask me what was up with that title. So I was excited to find it available on Netgalley!

The book starts after the eggs have already been fertilized, which makes it a bit more PG (no insect sex here, the dads leave before the fun begins). The book then poses questions familiar to expectant parents, though I think that it will still be funny for kids, especially those who have had younger siblings they’ve wondered about.

While there is some good information here, this is primarily entertaining and humorous. I could see a teacher using this to introduce an insect theme or a kid reading it for fun. The fun continues with the glossary, which defines the terms, but adds things like “food” or “dinner” to the end of a more technical definition of algae. There is also a great list of further resources, that doesn’t just list books to read, but tells kids a little of what they are about.

Overall a fun book that I will be buying for my library, as I think it will provide entertainment and education for kids.

Six Sheep Sip Thick Shakes–Say that Six Times Straight

Six Sheep Sip Thick Shakes: And Other Tricky Tongue Twisters
In Six Sheep Sip Thick Shakes: and Other Tricky Tongue Twisters Brian P. Cleary combines his experience with explaining basic linguistic concepts to early readers with a hefty dose of fun, to create a book that will appeal to children still working to master reading. Bright illustrations by Steve Mack are a perfect companion to the text, though they don’t actually always accurately depict what the tongue twister says, they are as fun to look at as the words are to say!

One part I particularly liked was the instructions for how to write your own twister, included on a page at the end, but I wish there had been more included on what makes a twister twist!

Recommended for public libraries looking to add to their collection of riddle books.

The Great Moon Hoax

Having studied history for many years I can tell you that even before newspapers were officially invented, people have found ways to spread sensational tales of mysterious creatures, moon beings, and fish falling from the sky. In fact modern newspapers developed, in my opinion, in the intersection between business correspondence, political doggerel, and sensational gossip and rumor. Only recently have concerns over truthfulness and integrity in journalism been particularly important, and the continuation of publications like the National Enquirer shows that the tradition of sensational journalism continues.

After reading so many early newspapers and broadsides, I was excited by the premise of Stephen Krensky’s The Great Moon Hoax, and hoped that it could communicate some of the wonder and excitement of a world where it could be true that a telescope had found people and beings on the moon. Based on a true series of events from the 1830’s, Krensky’s story focuses on two “newsies” who have a string of good luck selling papers when a series of news stories featuring marvelous discoveries from out of space before it is discovered it was all made up.

The Great Moon Hoax (Carolrhoda Picture Books) I loved the idea of this story, but found that some aspects of the story didn’t work for me, partially from a historical stand point, but particularly because of issues I had with the presentation for the intended audience. Historically, it is not likely that two homeless very young boys living on the streets in the early years of the 19th century would be reading well. Most likely they would have some one read the paper to them or only make out the rough details, not the rather large words used by the newspaper. The bigger issue, however, was the way this book presents this story as a ploy for the newspaper to make money. Things like this are more complicated than true or false. For example, stories of alien abductions are not about someone lying about their encounters, but rather about people who may have a range of degrees of belief that something happened to them. Similarly, speculation like this about the moon is more hypothetical then hoax. Centuries earlier, in England, pamphlets were published with discussions of people on the moon and whether or not they could be converted to Christianity. In a time period, when journalism was still being formalized, the imaginative, far-fetched reporting that places the speculation about what might be on the moon in the mouth of a famous astronomer is less a hoax than business as usual.

These little historical complains are not really important in the long run, the larger problem for me is that this book doesn’t seem to have an intended audience. Since some of the text is from the actual newspapers, the vocabulary used might go right over the heads of a picture book audience. Here’s a quote:

Unexpectedly, “four successive flocks of large winged creatures” appeared. “They averaged four feet in height, were covered except on the face, with short and glossy copper-covered hair, and had wings composed of a thin membrane, without hair, lying snugly upon their backs…”

This could be overcome if the illustrations could bring these descriptions to life, but Josee Bisaillon’s look like tissue paper ghosts and fail to bring life into the stilted text.

Overall, this book did not work for me, but still did leave a smile on my face as I thought of all the fantastic newspaper articles through the centuries.