Top Ten Books of February

Happy March Scouts! Winter’s almost over, though you can’t tell by the weather.

You curled up with some great reads last month, so if you’re looking for something to take on Spring Break, try a book on this list!

10. The Martian by Andy Weir

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first men to walk on the surface of Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first man to die there.

It started with the dust storm that holed his suit and nearly killed him, and that forced his crew to leave him behind, sure he was already dead. Now he’s stranded millions of miles from the nearest human being, with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive–and even if he could get word out, his food would be gone years before a rescue mission could arrive. Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to get him first.

But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills–and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit–he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. But will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

9. Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy, #2) by Deborah E. Harkness

IT BEGAN WITH A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES.

Historian Diana Bishop, descended from a line of powerful witches, and long-lived vampire Matthew Clairmont have broken the laws dividing creatures. When Diana discovered a significant alchemical manuscript in the Bodleian Library,she sparked a struggle in which she became bound to Matthew. Now the fragile coexistence of witches, daemons, vampires and humans is dangerously threatened.

Seeking safety, Diana and Matthew travel back in time to London, 1590. But they soon realise that the past may not provide a haven. Reclaiming his former identity as poet and spy for Queen Elizabeth, the vampire falls back in with a group of radicals known as the School of Night. Many are unruly daemons, the creative minds of the age, including playwright Christopher Marlowe and mathematician Thomas Harriot.

Together Matthew and Diana scour Tudor London for the elusive manuscript Ashmole 782, and search for the witch who will teach Diana how to control her remarkable powers…

8. American Sniper: the Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History by Chris Kyle

From 1999 to 2009, U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle recorded the most career sniper kills in United States military history. The Pentagon has officially confirmed more than 150 of Kyle’s kills (the previous American record was 109), but it has declined to verify the astonishing total number for this book. Iraqi insurgents feared Kyle so much they named him al-Shaitan (“the devil”) and placed a bounty on his head. Kyle earned legendary status among his fellow SEALs, Marines, and U.S. Army soldiers, whom he protected with deadly accuracy from rooftops and stealth positions. Gripping and unforgettable, Kyle’s masterful account of his extraordinary battlefield experiences ranks as one of the great war memoirs of all time.

A native Texan who learned to shoot on childhood hunting trips with his father, Kyle was a champion saddle-bronc rider prior to joining the Navy. After 9/11, he was thrust onto the front lines of the War on Terror, and soon found his calling as a world-class sniper who performed best under fire. He recorded a personal-record 2,100-yard kill shot outside Baghdad; in Fallujah, Kyle braved heavy fire to rescue a group of Marines trapped on a street; in Ramadi, he stared down insurgents with his pistol in close combat. Kyle talks honestly about the pain of war—of twice being shot and experiencing the tragic deaths of two close friends.

American Sniper also honors Kyles fellow warriors, who raised hell on and off the battlefield. And in moving first-person accounts throughout, Kyles wife, Taya, speaks openly about the strains of war on their marriage and children, as well as on Chris.

Adrenaline-charged and deeply personal, American Sniper is a thrilling eyewitness account of war that only one man could tell. Continue reading

Advertisements

Now Quoting: Unraveling

Is there anything better than 1) race against the clock 2) mysteries with… 3) twisty plots? UNRAVELING by Elizabeth Norris hits all our genre sweet spots. This YA thriller is our book club book for March 10th!

UNRAVELING (UNRAVELING, #1) BY ELIZABETH NORRIS

Leaving the beach, seventeen-year-old Janelle Tenner is hit head on by a pickup truck.

And killed.

Then Ben Michaels, resident stoner, is leaning over her. And even though it isn’t possible, she knows Ben somehow brought her back to life…

Meanwhile, Janelle’s father, a special agent for the FBI, starts working on a case that seems strangely connected to Ben. Digging in his files, Janelle finds a mysterious device – one that seems to be counting down to something that will happen in 23 days and 10 hours time.

That something? It might just be the end of the world. And if Janelle wants to stop it, she’s going to need to uncover Ben’s secrets – and keep from falling in love with him in the process…

Here are a handful of our favorite quotes from the novel that we love.


unraveling quotes 2

unraveling quote 1

unraveling quotes 3

unraveling quote 4

Tropes: Popular Victims

I was building up a booklist of murder mysteries when I stumbled on something of a pattern in the world of Young Adult contemporaries…

The popular kids bite it. A lot.

This is what literary critics and academics call a trope–bigger than a cliche, it can be a plot trick, a setup, a narrative structure, a character type, a linguistic idiom in the story. The person who has–supposedly–everything also has a lot of enemies, and in a YA novel’s high school that person is usually the Queen Bee.

To name a few more tropes you’ll recognize: a Cinderella makeover, Yer a Wizard Harry, instalove, absent parents, and love triangles.

PRETTY LITTLE LIARS (Pretty Little Liars, #1) by Sara Shepard

Everyone has something to hide-especially high school juniors Spencer, Aria, Emily and Hanna.

Spencer covets her sister’s boyfriend. Aria’s fantasizing about her English teacher. Emily’s crushing on the new girl at school. Hanna uses some ugly tricks to stay beautiful. But they’ve all kept an even bigger secret since their friend Alison vanished.
How do I know? Because I know everything about the bad girls they were, the naughty girls they are, and the dirty secrets they’ve kept. And guess what? I’m telling.

-A

THEY ALL FALL DOWN by Roxanne St. Claire

Every year, the lives of ten girls at Vienna High are transformed.

All because of the list.

Kenzie Summerall can’t imagine how she’s been voted onto a list of the hottest girls in school, but when she lands at number five, her average life becomes dazzling. Doors open to the best parties, new friends surround her, the cutest jock in school is after her.

This is the power of the list. If you’re on it, your life changes.

If you’re on it this year? Your life ends.

The girls on the list have started to die, one by one. Is it a coincidence? A curse? Or is the list in the hands of a killer?

Time is running out for Kenzie, but she’s determined to uncover the deadly secret of the list…before her number’s up.

THE LUXE (LUXE, #1) BY ANNA GODBERSON

Pretty girls in pretty dresses, partying until dawn. Irresistible boys with mischievous smiles and dangerous intentions. White lies, dark secrets, and scandalous hookups. This is Manhattan, 1899.

Beautiful sisters Elizabeth and Diana Holland rule Manhattan’s social scene. Or so it appears. When the girls discover their status among New York City’s elite is far from secure, suddenly everyone–from the backstabbing socialite Penelope Hayes, to the debonair bachelor Henry Schoonmaker, to the spiteful maid Lina Broud–threatens Elizabeth’s and Diana’s golden future.

With the fate of the Hollands resting on her shoulders, Elizabeth must choose between family duty and true love. But when her carriage overturns near the East River, the girl whose glittering life lit up the city’s gossip pages is swallowed by the rough current. As all of New York grieves, some begin to wonder whether life at the top proved too much for this ethereal beauty, or if, perhaps, someone wanted to see Manhattan’s most celebrated daughter disappear…

In a world of luxury and deception, where appearance matters above everything and breaking the social code means running the risk of being ostracized forever, five teenagers lead dangerously scandalous lives. This thrilling trip to the age of innocence is anything but innocent.

TEN by Gretchen McNeil

SHHHH!
Don’t spread the word!
Three-day weekend. Party at White Rock House on Henry Island.
You do NOT want to miss it.

It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives—an exclusive house party on Henry Island. Best friends Meg and Minnie each have their reasons for being there (which involve T.J., the school’s most eligible bachelor) and look forward to three glorious days of boys, booze and fun-filled luxury.

But what they expect is definitely not what they get, and what starts out as fun turns dark and twisted after the discovery of a DVD with a sinister message: Vengeance is mine.

Suddenly people are dying, and with a storm raging, the teens are cut off from the outside world. No electricity, no phones, no internet, and a ferry that isn’t scheduled to return for two days. As the deaths become more violent and the teens turn on each other, can Meg find the killer before more people die? Or is the killer closer to her than she could ever imagine?

Hate List by Jennifer Brown

Five months ago, Valerie Leftman’s boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on their school cafeteria. Shot trying to stop him, Valerie inadvertently saved the life of a classmate, but was implicated in the shootings because of the list she helped create. A list of people and things she and Nick hated. The list he used to pick his targets.

Now, after a summer of seclusion, Val is forced to confront her guilt as she returns to school to complete her senior year. Haunted by the memory of the boyfriend she still loves and navigating rocky relationships with her family, former friends and the girl whose life she saved, Val must come to grips with the tragedy that took place and her role in it, in order to make amends and move on with her life.

WISH YOU WERE DEAD (Thrillology, #1) by Todd Strasser

Str-S-d: I’ll begin with Lucy. She is definitely first on the list. You can’t believe how it feels to be in the cafeteria and turn around and there she is staring at me like I’m some disgusting bug or vermin. Does she really think I want to be this way? I hate you, Lucy. I really hate you. You are my #1 pick. I wish you were dead

The day after anonymous blogger Str-S-d wishes the popular girl would die, Lucy vanishes. The students of Soundview High are scared and worried. Especially frightened and wracked with guilt is Madison Archer, Lucy’s friend and the last person to see her the night she disappeared.

As days pass with no sign of the missing girl, even the attention of Tyler, an attractive new student, is not enough to distract Madison from her growing sense of foreboding. When two more popular students disappear after their names are mentioned on Str-S-d’s blog, the residents of Soundview panic.

Meanwhile, Madison receives anonymous notes warning that she could be next. Desperate to solve the mystery before anyone else disappears, Madison turns to Tyler, but can she trust him when it becomes clear that he knows more than he’s sharing?

The clock is ticking. Madison must uncover the truth behind the mysterious disappearances . . . before her name appears in Str-S-d’s blog.

WHAT HAPPENED TO CASS MCBRIDE? by Gail Giles

Kyle Kirby has planned a cruel and unusual revenge on Cass McBride, the most popular girl in school, for the death of his brother David. He digs a hole. Drugs Cass. Kidnaps her. Puts her in a box-underground. He buries her alive. But Kyle makes a fatal error: Cass knows the power of words. She uses fear as her weapon to keep her nemesis talking – and to keep herself breathing during the most harrowing 48 hours of her life.

Aside

Reading Challenge Book Ideas

As many of you know, this is the first year the library’s done a reading challenge! We went for prompt ideas instead of a straight-out book list, to give everyone a little more flexibility.

There are 36 book prompts–one for every week we’re in school! Come December, if you’ve managed to finish the list we’ll be giving out prizes! (Besides the usual Gold Stars and Brownie Points, I mean.)

If you need to pick up a Reading Challenge sheet, stop by the circulation desk!

A BANNED BOOK

also fits: a mystery or thriller, a trilogy

also fits: a sad book, based on a true story

also fits: a protagonist of color, a classic romance

also fits: protagonist of color and a funny book

A BOOK PUBLISHED THIS YEAR

also fits: a sad book

also fits: a sad book

A BOOK ORIGINALLY IN ANOTHER LANGUAGE

also fits: non-human characters, a book with magic, a book that became a movie, one-word title

 

also fits: protagonist of color, a book with magic

also fits: graphic novel, a book you can finish in a day, a protagonist of color

Also fits: a thriller or mystery, a trilogy, and a book that became a movie

A FUNNY BOOK

also fits: a book with a one-word title

also fits: a memoir, an author you’ve never read before

 

A BOOK LONGER THAN 500 PAGES

Also fits: a trilogy, a book with magic

 

Also fits: an author you haven’t read before

also fits: a book set in the future

 

also fits: an LGBT title and a mystery/triller

 

What We’re Reading

It’s time for another What We’re Reading! It’s always fun to talk about what we’ve picked up, and we’re read a lot of good books since November. Right now, we’re reading epic fantasy, historicals, and some magical realism.

MRS. GRIGG IS READING…

The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastards, #1) by Scott Lynch

In this stunning debut, author Scott Lynch delivers the wonderfully thrilling tale of an audacious criminal and his band of confidence tricksters. Set in a fantastic city pulsing with the lives of decadent nobles and daring thieves, here is a story of adventure, loyalty, and survival that is one part “Robin Hood”, one part Ocean’s Eleven, and entirely enthralling…

An orphan’s life is harsh — and often short — in the island city of Camorr, built on the ruins of a mysterious alien race. But born with a quick wit and a gift for thieving, Locke Lamora has dodged both death and slavery, only to fall into the hands of an eyeless priest known as Chains — a man who is neither blind nor a priest.

A con artist of extraordinary talent, Chains passes his skills on to his carefully selected “family” of orphans — a group known as the Gentlemen Bastards. Under his tutelage, Locke grows to lead the Bastards, delightedly pulling off one outrageous confidence game after another. Soon he is infamous as the Thorn of Camorr, and no wealthy noble is safe from his sting.

Passing themselves off as petty thieves, the brilliant Locke and his tightly knit band of light-fingered brothers have fooled even the criminal underworld’s most feared ruler, Capa Barsavi. But there is someone in the shadows more powerful — and more ambitious — than Locke has yet imagined.

Known as the Gray King, he is slowly killing Capa Barsavi’s most trusted men — and using Locke as a pawn in his plot to take control of Camorr’s underworld. With a bloody coup under way threatening to destroy everyone and everything that holds meaning in his mercenary life, Locke vows to beat the Gray King at his own brutal game — or die trying…

Mrs. Grigg says, “This book was recommended to me by a student last year and all I remember him saying, besides that he really loved the series, was “band of master thieves,” “magic,” “Renaissance Italy.” That’s all I needed to hear 😉 I just started this one but already I can tell I’ll like it. So far I would describe it as gritty and good!”

MS. NEAL JUST FINISHED…

The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicles, #1) by Patrick Rothfuss

My name is Kvothe.

I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left wit hboth my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during the day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make minstrels weep. 

You may have heard of me. 

Told in Kvothe’s own voice, this is the tale of the magically gifted young man who grows to be the most notorious wizard his world has ever seen. The intimate narrative of his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, his years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-ridden city, his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a legendary school of magic, and his life as a fugitive after the murder of a king form a gripping coming-of-age story unrivaled in recent literature. A high-action story written with a poet’s hand, The Name of the Wind is a masterpiece that will transport readers into the body and mind of a wizard.

Ms. Neal says, “Though slow to start, The Name of the Wind kept me reading–800 pages in a day! The poetic style, brilliant characters, and the immaculate worldbuilding had me falling in love with fantasy all over again.” 

MS. BARRON JUST FINISHED…

Beneath the Marble Sky by John Shors

Journey to dazzling seventeenth-century Hindustan, where the reigning emperor, consumed with grief over the tragic death of his beloved wife, commissioned the building of a grand mausoleum as a testament to the marvel of their love. This monument would soon become known as the Taj Mahal—a sight famous around the world for its beauty and the emotions it symbolizes.

Princess Jahanara, the courageous daughter of the emperor and his wife, recounts their mesmerizing tale, while sharing her own parallel story of forbidden love with the celebrated architect of the Taj Mahal. Set during a time of unimaginable wealth and power, murderous sibling rivalries, and cruel despotism, this impressive novel sweeps you away to a historical Hindustan brimming with action and intrigue in an era when, alongside the brutalities of war and oppression, architecture and the art of love and passion reached a pinnacle of perfection.

Ms. Barron says,  “I recently finished reading Beneath a Marble Sky by John Shors.  It was recommended by Ms. Herzog after she learned of my life-long wish to visit the Taj Mahal.  It is a wonderful fictionalized account of the building of the Taj Mahal, with court intrigue and romance aplenty.”

MS. PAUSCH JUST FINISHED…

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

In an unnamed South American country, a world-renowned soprano sings at a birthday party in honor of a visiting Japanese industrial titan. His hosts hope that Mr. Hosokawa can be persuaded to build a factory in their Third World backwater. Alas, in the opening sequence, just as the accompanist kisses the soprano, a ragtag band of 18 terrorists enters the vice-presidential mansion through the air conditioning ducts. Their quarry is the president, who has unfortunately stayed home to watch a favorite soap opera. And thus, from the beginning, things go awry.

Among the hostages are not only Hosokawa and Roxane Coss, the American soprano, but an assortment of Russian, Italian, and French diplomatic types. Reuben Iglesias, the diminutive and gracious vice president, quickly gets sideways of the kidnappers, who have no interest in him whatsoever. Meanwhile, a Swiss Red Cross negotiator named Joachim Messner is roped into service while vacationing. He comes and goes, wrangling over terms and demands, and the days stretch into weeks, the weeks into months.

With the omniscience of magic realism, Ann Patchett flits in and out of the hearts and psyches of hostage and terrorist alike, and in doing so reveals a profound, shared humanity. Her voice is suitably lyrical, melodic, full of warmth and compassion.

Ms. Pausch says, “Bel Canto is a beautiful account of love, crisis, and music that takes place during a coup in an unnamed Latin American vice president’s home. The vivid, diverse cast of characters and lyrical prose drew me in and kept me riveted right to the end.”

MRS. HERZOG IS READING…

The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure

Like most gentiles in Nazi-occupied Paris, architect Lucien Bernard has little empathy for the Jews. So when a wealthy industrialist offers him a large sum of money to devise secret hiding places for Jews, Lucien struggles with the choice of risking his life for a cause he doesn’t really believe in. Ultimately he can’t resist the challenge and begins designing expertly concealed hiding spaces—behind a painting, within a column, or inside a drainpipe—detecting possibilities invisible to the average eye. But when one of his clever hiding spaces fails horribly and the immense suffering of Jews becomes incredibly personal, he can no longer deny reality.

Written by an expert whose knowledge imbues every page, this story becomes more gripping with every life the architect tries to save.

Mrs. Herzog can be found reading her favorite…historical fiction!  She is currently reading The Paris Architect, a novel set in German occupied Paris in 1942. Lucien Bernard, an up-and-coming architect is challenged to accept a commission that will bring him a great deal of much needed money, however it is dangerous enough to get him killed.

Book Club: UNRAVELING by Elizabeth Norris

Our Code Name Verity book club went awesome, sorry (not sorry) for all the feels.

For our next book club March 10th, we’ll be reading the science fiction thriller Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris! It’s got a Fringe meets X-Files meets 24 vibe, but with teenagers, so even better. Ms. Jarvey, of the Lake Bluff Library will have more copies available for us on Monday! So stop in next week to get the book.

UNRAVELING (Unraveling, #1) by Elizabeth Norris

Leaving the beach, seventeen-year-old Janelle Tenner is hit head on by a pickup truck.

And killed.

Then Ben Michaels, resident stoner, is leaning over her. And even though it isn’t possible, she knows Ben somehow brought her back to life…

Meanwhile, Janelle’s father, a special agent for the FBI, starts working on a case that seems strangely connected to Ben. Digging in his files, Janelle finds a mysterious device – one that seems to be counting down to something that will happen in 23 days and 10 hours time.

That something? It might just be the end of the world. And if Janelle wants to stop it, she’s going to need to uncover Ben’s secrets – and keep from falling in love with him in the process…

Sounds awesome, right? It is. I turned pages so fast I got papercuts.

Come to book club, we have bagels.

Pick Up Something Different

Have you ever read a book where a main character holds a different sexuality than you? I’d bet not. For one thing, diverse books aren’t easy to find.

Most people don’t think to pick up a book with a protagonist different from themselves. When we read, we like to fall into a story, and it’s easier to do if the hero or heroine is like you–it’s why they market “boy books” and “girl books.” But I don’t have to tell you it’s important to see the world from different eyes–that lesson’s been drilled into you.

What more important is to choose to see through others eyes, and picking up a book is an easy, painless way to expand your horizons.we need diverse books Continue reading