BookClique

Here we will post our musings on a wide variety of titles. You can comment on our posts and find the titles in our catalog.

While the City Slept by Eli Sanders

city sleptEli Sanders’ While the City Slept is a riveting account of rape and murder committed by a mentally ill man in Seattle,WA.  Sanders won the Pulitzer Prize for his newspaper reporting of the crime and he does an excellent job with his descriptions and histories of the victims, the criminal, and most of all the state of mental health assistance today.  A lot of people think of big corporations, money, technology, rain, certain rock bands, etc. when they think of Washington state but just like most states (in fact it is one of the worst), Washington chooses to spend its tax money on almost everything but mental health.  Huge tax breaks are given out to corporations while fewer and fewer spaces are available in mental health institutions because of lack of funding.  The mentally ill are usually poor and are just not going to be as attractive to politicians as corporations like Boeing and Microsoft.   Until 2014, whenever families could not take anymore and brought their mentally ill family member to an emergency room, hospitals just strapped them to a gurney and put them in hallways for indefinite amounts of time because the state’s mental institutions had no room for more (actually they did have a lot of room they just couldn’t fill it because of the lack of funding).  Thankfully, this was recently made illegal but that just means the ill person is put back out on the street.  Sanders says that in 1955 when we still had many mental institutions there were 500,000 people in them.  By 1980, after we had closed a lot of them and went with a “community treatment” model (which doesn’t seem to be working) that number had dropped to 155,000!  The criminal in this case, Isaiah Kalebu, should have been in treatment (involuntarily) long before he committed these horrible acts but between the lack of funding, different courts/schools lack of communication with each other and his resistance to any help, other people were going to be victimized, it was just a matter of time.  How many times do we have to hear this kind of thing?  Why does a place like Seattle have such outdated software in its court system that it can’t communicate with other courts in the same area? Great book.

Stacy W


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Little Robot & Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke

I have discovered a treasure, and this type of treasure only gets more valuable with the sharing. What treasure, you ask? Clearly, it is not a winning lottery ticket, because would already be living in Hawaii and I certainly would not share. This treasure is an author and illustrator. His name? Ben Hatke, and he writes the most wonderful  graphic novels for young children.

zitaHe has written a series of three graphic novels about the adventures of an intelligent girl, lost, through no fault of her own, in space. The first book, Zita the Spacegirl: Far From Home tells the tale of Zita, who pushes a red button she shouldn’t have pushed and gets pulled into a strange area of space along with her best friend Joseph. Now, far from home, Zita must try to deal with aliens, a broken red button, a suspicious pied piper, and a missing best friend. Can Zita face her fears, find her friend, fix the red button, and finally get home? The titles in this series are Zita the Spacegirl: Far From Home, Legends of Zita the Spacegirl, and The Return of Zita the Spacegirl. These books would appeal to readers from third grade and up.

 

little robotBen’s newest book, titled Little Robot, also features a plucky girl character as she finds adventure. In Little Robot, we meet a young girl who just happens across a little robot, one lost from his shipment of other robots headed for a factory. The girl overcomes her wariness, and she and Little Robot are soon fast friends. As Little Robot learns about the world, he longs for friends like himself, but the girl does not want to let him go. When danger from Little Robot’s past threatens them both, can their friendship survive? This graphic novel is aimed at a younger audience than Zita the Spacegirl, with a good portion of the story being told without words. When words are used, they are simple enough that I would happily put this into the hands of a six year old. Ben’s illustrations are superb, and actions and emotions are clearly conveyed through the artwork.

 
As a woman with a science and engineering background, I applaud that all the books mentioned here feature girls that are bold, smart, and able to fix their own problems and technology. Boys should still enjoy the titles, as they feature wit, charm, and a goodly dash of sly humor. Well done, Ben Hatke. Well done!

Annette G.


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Stillwater by Melissa Lenhardt

stillwaterJack McBride, formerly an FBI agent, has taken the Chief of Police job in Stillwater, Texas. He arrives in town with his teenaged son, Ethan, buys the house of a local woman named Ellie Martin, and wonders about how his predecessor, Buck Pollard, left office in such a hurried fashion. Buck Pollard, he is told, ran a tight ship and crime was at an all time low in town while he was on the job. Jack is left little time to wonder about this curious matter, as his first day on the job he is called to investigate the violent death of a local couple. What looks to be a murder-suicide soon becomes a straight up murder, and Jack has few clues to follow to find the killer. Buck Pollard’s presence becomes a factor in the investigation, as Buck seems to have the continued loyalty of Jack’s officers. The plot thickens as Buck’s machinations start to affect Ethan at school. Jack begins to wonder if he made the right decision in coming to Stillwater after all.

Stillwater is an excellent mystery, full of small town gossip and small town situations. The crimes are serious ones, and it is clear that Jack will handle them as the professional he is, in spite of how things were handed by Buck Pollard before him. I loved the people living in the town of Stillwater, I loved the fact that Jack McBride’s family plays a role in the story, and I loved Ellie Martin, a love interest for Jack. This is not a romance book, and not a cozy mystery involving knitting, recipes, or tea drinking sleuths. This is a well-crafted mystery, full of vibrant characters, interesting storylines, and subtle subplots that will certainly play a part of future Jack McBride mysteries.

Stillwater is the first book in the Jack McBride series. Book 2, The Fisher King, comes out in November of 2016.

Annette G.


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The Wild Robot by Peter Brown

WildRobotCoverOne fateful day, a ship is caught in a hurricane and sinks, but not before five boxes are thrown free to float away. Four of the boxes meet an untimely end on the rocky shores of a distant island. The fifth box makes it to shore before it breaks open. The island otters search the box and push a button. Out pops Roz, a shiny new robot, now activated and awake. Roz does not know how robots are supposed to act, but she does her best. All Roz knows is she feels lonely and wants to make friends. All the animals are afraid of Roz, and Roz has to learn to be wild in order to gain their trust. When Roz tries to care for a orphaned gosling, Roz realizes she needs even more help to ensure he survives.

The Wild Robot is a lovely book, and one that begs to be read aloud. Peter Brown is a picture book author and illustrator, having won a Caldecott Honor for Creepy Carrots! Readers will relate to Roz as she tries to not only survive, but thrive on the island. Roz is the ultimate outsider, and if she can make friends with otters, beavers, deer, and squirrels, then the children who are reading the book certainly can. Marvelous.

Annette G.


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Ready to Run by Dr. Kelly Starrett

ready to runDo you have issues with your feet?  I do not but I try to read any running books I come across and Ready to Run by Dr. Kelly Starrett is one of the best books I have ever read about preventing/fixing  running injuries and in reality, any nagging foot problems.   He is a physiotherapist who is all about mobility, movement, and conditioning and works closely w/professional sports teams and Olympic athletes.  Starrett thinks inserts and special expensive shoes are highly over-prescribed and recommended (it’s a billion dollar industry) and thinks most issues can be solved with the right foot/leg mobility exercises, paying more attention to your posture and even the way you stand, and (of course) less sitting.  No days off – these are things you need to do every day! The book is full of step by step pictures of the lower extremity exercises you should be doing and I only recognized half of them (and I have went through a lot of these type of books). I know a lot of people who spend a lot of money on certain shoes because their doctor has told them they have to because of their issues and it would be very interesting to see if they followed all his advice if their plantar fasciitis, IT band issues, knee problems and shin splints would go away – he has a lot of testimonials from people he has helped.  I personally know that I should work more on my posture.  2 other things he advises: if you are seeing a doctor for these problems who is not a runner or physically active themselves, switch. And stop wearing flip-flops-they are the devil’s footwear!
Stacy W.


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The Drifter by Nicholas Petrie

drifterPeter Ash came home from the war with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and as a result, he has acute claustrophobia. He spends his time living and camping out-of-doors, but when a fellow Marine commits suicide, Peter decides to help his friend’s widow in any way he can. Since her porch needs repair, he starts with that. The discovery of a huge, snarling dog and a black bag full of money and explosives under the porch sets Peter on a course that will put him at odds with a number of people in the local town. Tensions mount as Peter begins to suspect that his friend did not kill himself, but in fact was murdered. And the more Peter investigates, the more he realizes that there may be much more to the crime than murder.  Can Peter figure out who killed his friend before more people die? The Drifter is an excellent mystery debut. The mystery is well plotted, and the action is fast. And of course, the story involves a really good dog, Charles Mingus. My only complaint is that the dog didn’t get a bigger piece of the action at the end. A very enjoyable book: Nicholas Petrie is an author to watch.

Annette G.


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Innocents and Others by Dana Spiotta

innocentsMeadow and Carrie are best friends.  They both grew up in L.A. in the 80’s and both became successful filmmakers. Their story uses the old, “rich girl/poor girl”, and “nice girl/ bad girl” tropes, but defies turning the women into stereotypes. They make very different types of films and have very different outlooks on life. Meadow makes raw, experimental documentaries while Carrie takes her cue from sitcoms, making funny films with strong women protagonists. Both are narrators. Carrie’s story is predominately about Meadow and their friendship. Meadow’s story is about Meadow and her films. This is not a 50/50 relationship, not especially warm and fuzzy, but it is real and solid. Interspersed is the story of Jelly and Jack, the subjects of one Meadow’s documentaries. Their relationship plays out completely over the phone with heartbreaking results. Innocents and Others is a book that challenges the reader to consider what real friendship is and what you should expect from it.  I recommend this book highly if you like fiction about ideas and art.
Sherri Mc


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Orphan X by Gregg Hurwitz

orphan xUrban legends exist about a man, a Nowhere Man, who will help those who have no other help. He doesn’t ask for money, rather, he provides his help with only one condition: that you pass along his phone number to one other person in need. Except this Nowhere Man is no urban legend. Taken off the streets as a child, Evan Smoak has been trained in a government black ops program given the code name Orphan. Evan is Orphan X. He has mad skills, and uses them for good by killing bad people. But when he helps a young woman named Katrin, somehow he himself ends up in the cross-hairs. The attention means that his secure, hidden life as an unknown agent is threatened. His heart, also secure and hidden, is threatened by his neighbor Mia and her adorable son Peter. Can Evan save Katrin, save Mia and Peter, and save himself? Plot twists and turns keep the pages turning. The body count mounts and the action is fast and furious as Evan battles to outwit his clever adversaries. This is a book that might keep you up all night; you have been warned!

First book of what looks to be a promising series, Orphan X will appeal to those who like Jason Bourne, James Bond, and Jason Statham movies. Already this book looks to be heading to the big screen. An excellent read.


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Honky Tonk Samurai by Joe Lansdale

honkyHere I go again in love with another Joe Lansdale book.  I still remember when his work was new to me and I read Vanilla Ride and it knocked my socks off.  Honky Tonk Samurai is part of his same Hap and Leonard series and like previous books in the series is violent, hilarious, and decidedly NOT politically correct.   In this installment Hap and Leonard are doing surveillance for their periodic employer (The Marvin Hanson Agency) when they witness a guy kicking his dog.  Hap and Leonard jump out of the car and confront him and insist he apologize to the dog and give it to them.  He refuses so Leonard beats him until he sees the error of his ways.  Meanwhile, their boss Marvin pulls up in a police car and informs them he has just come out of retirement and is now the police chief so he needs to sell the detective agency.  Hap’s girlfriend is tired of being a nurse so she buys it.  They get a case right off the bat and craziness ensues.  Between the three of them they are also able to take great care of the doggy-in fact, she probably thinks she has died and gone to heaven as she gets to go on frequent trips to Dairy Queen for a vanilla cone and no-one is kicking her anymore.  I do not know why I enjoy these books so much because I generally like them violent and gritty with absolutely no humor involved but his brand of humor hits the right spots for me.  A must read.

Stacy W


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Be Frank with Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson

be frankAlice Whitley has loved “Pitched,” a book by reclusive writer M. M. Banning, for years.  The book is the author’s singular and much lauded title, a modern classic in the same way “To Kill a Mockingbird” is a classic. Alice, who works for M. M. (Mimi) Banning’s agent, is sent to help the author as she works on a new book–the first one she’s written in years. When Alice arrives, she is immediately put in charge of Frank, Mimi’s son. Frank is nine years old, but inside, he’s an old soul who loves old movies, dresses in old movie fashions, and is smarter than almost everyone else. What Frank can’t do is get along in public schools, handle his reactions when people don’t follow his rules, and understand normal, everyday situations. As Alice begins to understand more about Frank, she begins to wonder about Frank’s father, and she also begins to wonder if Mimi, who types like a fanatic every day in her room, is actually writing a novel. When a handsome, mysterious man named Xander arrives in the household, Alice becomes more deeply involved with the family. Can Alice help Frank adjust to school, figure out how Xander fits into the picture, and help Mimi finish her book, all before Mimi’s finances run out? She is certainly determined to try, at the same time, she hopes to satisfy her insatiable curiosity about the secrets of Mimi and Frank’s life.

This is a marvelous book. At first, it seems like a breezy, light tale, full of comedic antics, mostly performed by Frank. But the story has hidden depth as we come to understand Frank and Mimi, and fully realize the dynamics of their relationship. This story is less about Alice’s growth as a character, and more about her learning to appreciate the personalities and needs of others. And if you don’t fall in love with Frank while you read this book, there is something seriously wrong with you. Be Frank With Me is a funny, charming tale, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Annette G.


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Tippecanoe County Public Library * 627 South Street * Lafayette, IN * 47901 * 765 429-0100