Monthly Archives: May 2011

Book review: Blackout

 Blackout
 by Connie Willis

Adult Fiction

 

Welcome to Oxford, in the year 2060, where for decades historians have been using time travel to go back and observe crucial moments in history – the black plague, the crusades, 9/11. The time-traveling historians have language and data implants to allow them to blend in with local culture, vaccinations to protect them from diseases, and safeguards built into the time travel system to prevent them from altering events.

… Or so they thought. But now things are starting to go wrong, and a group of historians are stranded in time: stuck in London during the worst days of the blitz with no way to return and time running out.

Connie Willis vividly portrays everyday life and the extraordinary courageousness of the people in London during the war. This book works equally well as a scifi adventure and a historical novel and is both well-researched and imaginative.

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Book review: Among Others

Among Others
By Jo Walton

Adult Fiction

Morwenna is a reserved, unusual teen, easily annoyed by the vacuity of her classmates, and most at home among the bookshelves of the local bookshop or library.

Mori grew up in a Welsh mining town, playing among the spirits that were as real to her as her twin sister. But then her mother began dabbling in the dark side of magic, and things went tragically wrong. Now Mori is making a new life for herself in an English boarding school, very alone except for the copious amounts of books she devours.

The quietly moving and lyrical writing creates an air of mystery, and fans of classic scifi and fantasy will find many of their favorite authors and books discussed – a fun bonus in what is already an enchanting story.

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Book review: The Weird Sisters

The Weird Sisters
by Eleanor Brown

Adult Fiction

What happens when three very different sisters move back home with their ailing mother and Shakespeare-scholar father? Well, it’s messy, complicated, and frustrating: as one of the sisters says, “See, we love each other.  We just don’t like each other very much.” But it’s also enlightening and, ultimately, healing.

Rose, the responsible oldest sister, can’t decide whether to give up her comfortable  life to take a chance on excitment. Bean has a guilty secret. And Cordy, the free-spirited baby of the family, is realizing that maybe it’s finally time to grow up.

This tale is a real treat for book lovers – no matter how dysfunctional the family, at least they share a common love for books, the Bard, and an unofficial family motto: There’s no problem a library card can’t solve.

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Book review: City of Fallen Angels

City of Fallen Angels
by Cassandra Clare

Young Adult Fiction

The 4th installment of the Mortal Instruments series finds Clary and Jace back in New York City – the Mortal War is over, Clary’s mother is getting married, Jace is finally her boyfriend, and there is peace between the Downworlders and the Shadowhunters … or is there?

Tensions mount between the Downworlders and the Shadowhunters – and between Jace and Clary. Slowly Clary begins to realize that it was her actions that are causing a heartbreaking chain of events that may cost her the very thing she was trying to protect.

Action-packed and full of surprises, fans of the Mortal Instruments series will surely find this a satisfactory continuation of the story.

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Book review: The Elegance of the Hedgehog

The Elegance of the Hedgehog
by Muriel Barbery

Adult Fiction, audiobook

This is a deceptive book. The back cover blurb makes it sound like an off-beat, sarcastic romp through a posh Parisian neighborhood, but the first half of the book reads more like the  philosophical musings of a middle-aged, largely solitary autodidact and a twelve-year-old child too serious for her years. And the ending … well, you’ll have to find out about the ending on your own, but suffice it to say: this book has a trick up its sleeve.

But as the plot slowly unfolds, you grow to care for Renèe and Paloma and the surprising people in their lives – especially the ones who see through the outer shell of the inconspicuous among us and recognize the person beneath.

The book is pleasantly read by the quietly sarcastic voice of Barbara Rosenblat as Renèe and the clear, direct voice of Cassandra Morris as Paloma.

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Book review: Dying To Meet You

 

Dying To Meet You
by Kate Klise

Grades 3-6
Junior Fiction

In this first book of the 43 Old Cemetery Road series, we find a Victorian home inhabited by a grumpy author (aptly named I. B. Grumply), a practically parentless boy named Seymour, one cat, and a very opinionated and literary ghost named Olive C. Spence.

Mr Grumply is the author of ghost stories for children, but he hates children … and doesn’t believe in ghosts. Seymour definitely believes in ghosts – after all, doesn’t Olive keep him company, and fix him dinner almost every night? And Olive just wants a chance, after almost 100 years, to finally get her book published.

Told entirely in letters, notes, and newspaper articles, this fast-paced and humorous tale is full of wordplay and charmingly illustrated, and certain to leave young readers  eager for the next book in the series.

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