Saturday, September 29, 2012

Reading left and right

In about five weeks, we will choose a president and thus determine the overall direction we as a nation will take in the coming four years.  This is always a significant decision because it has with real consequences, both for all of us and for the many, many people around the globe who have no say but are nonetheless affected by the outcome.  Even so, one might suggest that this election is all-the-more important because we find ourselves at such a pivotal time in our history as a nation.  I do not have to tell you that we are facing serious challenges: unemployment, climate change, violent extremism, personal and national debt. Well-intentioned and intelligent people have different answers to address these and many other challenges. Because the stakes are so high, some of these disagreements can become quite heated. 

Most likely, you know people who hold vastly differing convictions on various issues.  These perspectives may be reflected in some of the books they read, and the books they may recommend to you.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Demons, Exorcists, and Manga, Oh My!

What would you do if you found out your dad was Satan?  In the manga Blue Exorcist by Kazue Kato, when Rin Okumura finds out dear old dad is the Ultimate Evil, Rin swears to destroy him.  And so a half-demon secretly enters an academy for exorcists to train up to fight and defeat Satan. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Flip for Flappers

Did reading The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald leave you yearning for a little more time  in the world of the Jazz Age--decadent parties, liberated ladies and handsome millionaires?  Look no further than the Flappers series by Jillian Larkin.  I leaped into the third novel in the series--Diva and enjoyed every page in the same way I would enjoy a lavish dessert.  No deep messages here, but plenty of action and bold characters.You'll get to know the three principal heroines, Clara Knowles, a columnist for the social rag the Manhattanite, Lorraine Dyer, a socially disgraced, but nonetheless spunky student at Barnard College, and Gloria Carmody, a talented and romantic singer.  All three young women have been friends but have lost touch due to romances gone array and unfortunate lapses in judgment.  The author gives us detailed descriptions of the designer dresses the women wear.  In fact, I googled flapper fashions while reading to get a sense of the style.  The Flapper series is a colorful and detailed snapshot of the era.  If the roaring 20's continues to draw you in and you want something meatier, dive into another classic F. Scott Fitzgerald,  This Side of Paradise. This book is described as the first to capture the Jazz Age and it captures it well.  And to further develop your interest, two new novels set in the 1920s have also recently burst into the scene: Silhouette of a Sparrow by Molly Beth Griffin which approaches the era with a lesbian theme and The Diviners, by Libba Bray which injects the 1920s setting with a touch of the occult. Historical fiction has never been more entertaining.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Making a Prince

Commit treason or die.  That is the choice Sage faces in The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen.  He is one of four orphans that a nobleman named Conner buys.  Conner pits the boys against each other in a series of deadly games.  He plans to use the winner to impersonate a prince who has been missing for years.   The winning boy will ultimately become a puppet king, but the losers are lose ends that will need eliminating. 

This book had a gripping combination of action and intrigue.  There are plots within plots and all sorts of devious twists.  Sage is smart and snarky and that makes a great narrating voice.  I can't say too much more without giving it away, but this one is definitely worth reading.

Monday, September 10, 2012


Michael Crichton is a very creative author as he writes about science and medicine in great detail. You may be familiar with Jurassic Park, probably his most famous book and the movie by the same name.  His book Timeline includes time travel and adventure during the middle ages which he writes about vividly.  He gives a new spin on time travel or at least different from what I imagined and his portrayal of the Middle Ages is more violent than I had ever envisioned.  But it is a great story that grabs you from the beginning and keeps you engaged.  This whole adventure starts out in northern Arizona. 
Unlike Crichton's Jurassic Park DO NOT bother with the movie - it is not even close!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Ender's Game: Earth is Losing...

After decades of battle against insect-like aliens, we still haven't found a general who can defeat them.We're running out of soldiers, we're running out of spaceships, and we're running out of hope. But maybe, with the right training, one special boy can be molded into a hero.

Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card, tells the story of Andrew "Ender" Wiggin, who's only six when he's recruited to Battle School to learn strategies to defeat the aliens. I'm excited to see the movie adaptation next year, but you should definitely read it first, so why not now, before the hype starts and you hear spoilers?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A Winter's Tale

When Grace was eleven, she was attacked by a pack of wolves. They dragged her into the snowy forest of Mercy Falls, Minnesota, and she would surely have died if not for the intervention of one particular wolf. For the six years since she has been obsessed with him, following every movement of his pack as they roam the woods near her home.

Sam has been a werewolf for most of his life. However, it isn't the moon that dictates his form, but the temperature--in winter he's a wolf, in summer he's a boy, and he's been in love with Grace ever since he rescued her that cold day years before. But how can he ever tell her, especially when he only has one year left before he becomes a wolf permanently?

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater is a haunting, lyrical story that takes star-crossed lovers to an entirely new level--one where the lines that separate good from evil are constantly blurring, and humans can be just as cruel as the monsters they fear.