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.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Six-of-CrowsI love heist movies and adore clever criminals. I suspect many others like them too, or “Robin Hood” would not continue to be such a beloved tale. So when I read the blurb for Six of Crows and understood that it was a novel about a dangerous heist undertaken by six young, clever people, I knew I had to read it. The story is set in Ketterdam, a Scandinavian-flavor fantasy city complete with an active criminal element. Kaz Brekker is a criminal prodigy, and he has been asked to free a man from an impregnable prison. If he succeeds, he will be rich beyond his wildest dreams. And if he fails, he will likely be dead. Thankfully, Kaz is smart enough not to go it alone. Enter Nina, a girl with the magical power to stop someone’s heart; Inej, a gifted acrobat who goes by the name of the Wraith; Jesper, a skilled sharp-shooter with a gambling debt; Wylan, a demolitions expert with a highborn past; and Matthias, a convict in search of revenge. Together, they are the Six of Crows, and together, they are heading into trouble.

This is the first book of a new series, set in the same fantasy universe as Bardugo’s Grisha series. The magical elements of her other books are present here, but you do not have to read her other works before diving into this one. This book is darker in tone than her other titles, and the story focuses on action, not romance. The characters are all flawed, but in a way that makes them more likeable, more human. The pacing is fast, and the dialogue snappy. The story is told in the shifting points of view of the Crows themselves, in a style you more often see in epic fantasy. Yet, epic fantasy may have more than one story unfolding in the different points of view, and with Six of Crows, you have one continuous story told from many angles.  I found the storytelling style to be original, but a little off-putting, at least to start. Once I knew enough about the characters, the fast flow of the story started me flipping the pages like mad. This is an excellent start to a new young adult series, one that can be enjoyed by adults as well.

Annette G.

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Wake of Vultures by Lila Bowen

wake of vulturesImagine Louie L’Amour meets the paranormal. Wake of Vultures by Lila Bowen has components of Native American myths, legends, and western history, as well as elements of the paranormal: werewolves, vampires, shape-shifters, and many others. Nettie Lonesome is an orphaned and abandoned half Native American, half African-American young woman. The family that “raised” her treated her like a slave. These actions in some ways helped her throughout the challenges she faces in the paranormal world. From the very beginnings of her violent introductions into the this world, horses are her love. Her understanding of horses and her stubbornness help her learn about not just herself but the world itself. When she faces these paranormal creatures you see her grow as an individual, how she makes her own destiny. If you are looking for a Twilight type book this one is not for you. If you would love a paranormal story with a unique writing setting, and a writing style that keeps you interested, this is for you. Please know that there is a cliff hanger.

Sarah B.


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Haunted Plantations of the South by Richard Southall

haunted plantationsThe mansion that may have inspired Tara in Gone With The Wind, children poisoned by a slave with a grudge, haunted slave graveyards, a phantom party at the ruins of a mansion destroyed by fire—these are only a few of the hauntings and location places described in this tour of antebellum Southern plantations with tales and legends of ghosts and spirits attached.  Haunted Plantations of the South is a compact volume that  covers a selection (necessarily limited) of such estates throughout Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana, the Carolinas, and Virginia.

The genuine strength of this book is the way the author weaves the history of each plantation, along with the general history of the times, with the story of the hauntings reported to take place in and around each.   The author’s easygoing prose is detailed and informative.   The biggest disappointment is the lack of photographs, of which there are only two, and those in the introduction.  The book would’ve gained immensely in interest had each segment been preceded by a photograph of the plantation.   I recommend sitting with Google Image Search close at hand as you read!

Alison M.

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The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny

Nature of the BeastI discovered Louise Penny about five years ago, and she has quickly become one of my favorite mystery authors. The Nature of the Beast is Ms. Penny’s eleventh title in her Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series, and this is the best book yet. In The Nature of the Beast, we find Armand Gamache living in the tiny town of Three Pines. He has retired from the his position as Chief Inspector of the Sûreté de Québec, but soon, he finds himself using his old detective skills. A young boy named Laurent has been found dead. An accident, the police say, but Armand is not so sure. Soon, his suspicions lead to a bigger, more ominous investigation as a terrible monster is found in the woods near the town. Ruth Zardo, the resident poet, seems to know more about this darkness that haunts the town than anyone else, yet she does not give Armand more than odd quotes and strange hints. Soon, another murder occurs, and it is clear that Armand and the rest of the Sûreté de Québec have their work cut out for them to find the killer.

I loved this book, and very much enjoyed visiting with the residents of Three Pines. Louise Penny writes novels unlike any other mystery series available today. Not only do you have a true-hearted, intelligent detective, but you have a marvelous cast of characters. Penny mixes her mystery with culture, art, music, and deep thoughts. Excellent, and not to be missed. The Nature of the Beast is a good starting point for this series.

Annette G.

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Blood on Snow by Jo Nesbo

Blood on SnowI’ve always loved Jo Nesbo’s Harry Hole series so I thought I might as well try his stand alone Blood on Snow too and it was great.  Olav is a “fixer” (murderer for hire) for one of the two top criminal bosses in town.  He has never had a problem doing any job-the first person he ever killed was his father (deservedly) when he was a teenager and that’s when he realized his dream of going to college was not for him and that he was better suited for this kind of work.  But now Olav’s boss has found out that his most recent wife is having an affair and so wants Olav to kill her.   Olav starts spying on her, discovers she’s quite a looker, and actually witnesses her with her lover.  Her lover seems to be very cruel to her so Olav decides that he needs to die instead of the wife.  After he does the deed and calls his boss to tell him the problem has been solved but not in the way that he asked, he finds out that he has just killed the boss’s only son who was the one having an affair with his own stepmother.  From the boss’ perspective, now Olav is the one who needs to die!  Olav picks up the boss’s wife and they both go into hiding together.  Can they stay ahead of the criminals now tasked with killing them?  Can Olav get to the boss and kill him first?  Read and find out!

Stacy W

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The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

life-changing-magic-of-tidying-upI downloaded the audiobook The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo to my phone from Hoopla. I wasn’t expecting to get much from this book. Maybe a few tips for organizing my house, but really I just wanted to find out why it was so popular. Well, I got way more out of it than that! About halfway through listening to this book I was dying to give the author’s KonMari Method a shot. She claims that if you follow her instructions, you will never relapse. While her ideas are not radical, they are so different from any other technique I’ve tried to trim down my belongings. There were a few key concepts that really stuck out to me. Tidying must be done all in one go, not a little at a time. Organize category by category, starting with clothes, books, paper, miscellaneous, and finally memorabilia. Break down each category into subcategories but always bring all items from that category out onto a single surface. Pick up each item and ask, “Does it spark joy?” You must go through an entire category before you can begin putting things away. Store items vertically, like books, so you are able to see everything you own in a category at a single glance. Keep surfaces like counters clear and put things away when you are finished using them. Using the KonMari Method I was able to let go of 21 thirteen gallon bags of clutter! After taking 12 of those bags to a thrift store and throwing the rest away I felt lighter and my apartment felt so much bigger.Many blogs and websites have directions for using the KonMari Method, however the author shares her personal experiences with tidying which makes the book more relatable to anyone who has tried to declutter their home.

Alex W.

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After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid

after i doA friend recommended the author Taylor Jenkins Reid to me. In 7 days, I had made my way through all 3 standalone books Taylor Jenkins Reid has written. I am buying my time until summer 2016 when her 4th book is supposed to comes out. I listened to the audio book, After I Do through Hoopla. The story is about a couple that reaches a breaking point in their marriage. They decide to take a year off from each other. During the year apart they have one rule, they cannot contact each other. Each takes their own path over the course of the year. They learn how to be on their own and how they should have communicated with each other during their marriage. Over the course of the book, you learn about the couple, their marriage, and how they treated each other while they were together. I couldn’t help but keep thinking this couple could have learned a lot by reading Gary D. Chapman’s, The Five Love Languages. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good romance story.

Marlene D.


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Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine

inkboneThe Great Library of Alexandria has survived to modern times.  This ancient repository of knowledge now keeps all original books in a world where private ownership of books is forbidden. Copies of books are provided to the masses through Alchemy, and those that try to smuggle books illegally are hunted down by Library Automata–fearsome robots in the forms of Sphinxes and ancient Greek gods. Jess Brightwell comes from a family of book smugglers. His father trained him early to be self-reliant and to keep secrets well. When his father asks him to train to become a scholar in the Library so he can more easily smuggle books, Jess is conflicted. He loves books, and believes that maybe the Library offers him more than a life of smuggling ever could. When he arrives at the Great Library, he meets a new class of students, an intimidating instructor, and begins to understand that the Library may have a dark side to its services. During a dangerous training mission, students begin to die and Jess must make a vital choice…stay loyal to the Library or stay loyal to his friends.

Ink and Bone is a terrific start to what promises to be a fun new Young Adult series. Steam punk meets Harry Potter as Jess and company begin their journey to understand the workings of the Great Library. Their discoveries and decisions may just change the world.

Annette G.

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Meb for Mortals by Meb Keflezighi

Meb for MortalsIf you are a runner or follow running in any way, you are probably as familiar with Meb Keflezighi as you are with Steve Prefontaine.  Meb has come out with a pretty good running book called Meb for Mortals.   If you are unaware of who Meb is, well, he just happens to be one of the greatest runners ever-the only runner to have won the Boston Marathon (2014), NYC Marathon (2009), and have an Olympic medal in marathoning (2004).  And not only did he win these medals, when he won them each time it had been at least 25-30 years since the last American had won any of them! I really like that there was such a spread of years between these achievements also because it shows how an athlete can dominate in running for a long time-some sports there is such a short period of time that you can be on top of your game and it’s usually when you’re young-Meb was 39 when he won Boston!  His book is for professional runners and for new runners too.  His chapters will take you through things like nutrition, training, racing, etc.  I read a lot of running books and magazines to try to glean some advice and/or inspiration from them and frankly there are some that I get nothing from.  But Meb’s book has some interesting drills that I will be adding to my repertoire and I really enjoyed his chapter on “thinking like Meb”-especially the committing to excellence part. A great kernel of advice: don’t use the word “sacrifice” because it has negative connotations.  So if you are making hard sacrifices for your running, use the word “choose” instead.  “I choose to do this because it’s better for my running”.  Actually, if other runners are anything like me, our “choices” annoy our family and friends much more than they do ourselves! Worthwhile reading.

Stacy W.

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In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

dark dark woodNora is a reclusive writer, and she likes it that way. Unexpectedly, she receives an invitation to attend the “hen,” or bachelorette party, for Clare, a friend she hasn’t seen in ten years. The invitation is puzzling and curiosity getting the better of her, Nora accepts. Soon, she finds herself in a glass house in the woods, cut off from civilization, with a small group of Clare’s supposedly closest friends. As they start the partying in earnest, Nora tries to figure out her purpose with the group. When they use the Ouija board for their evening party game, things start to slip into weirdness. Murder is the Ouija word of the day, a threat backed up by mysterious footprints in the freshly fallen snow. Is this a party game gone wrong, or is the group truly in danger?

This debut novel’s storyline reminds me of one of those scary movies that kids like to watch at sleepovers. Hints are dropped here and there about friends with hidden grudges and people with mysterious pasts. Shadows lurk in the corners, and monsters hide in the closets. While that may make this story seem trite, it is not. You immediately connect with Nora, and alternating chapters tell details during and after the story’s main event, keep the pacing strong and the tension high. In a Dark, Dark Wood is a fast read, with the creepy atmosphere of the glass house in the woods providing an eerie setting. Without any graphic or explicit details, this psychological thriller is a fun read.

Annette G.


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