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Daughter of Smoke and Bone – A Review

Posted on April 11th, 2014 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff
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daughter of smoke and bone

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Lani Taylor

Listened to by Anna/Central Teen Room

Karou is a young art student in Prague with ties to another world where she grew up as a child. Her father figure is  a demon who collects teeth, though for what reason, she does not know. She is caught in the middle of an otherworldly war, and yet, she’s stuck on the outside having no idea a war is going on. But when black hand prints start appearing on portals all over the world she begins to wonder what’s happening, until her curiosity gets the better of her. It’s then she meets beautiful angel, Akiva, and learns of a very violent past she might, or might not, have been a part of in another life.

Instead of picking up the print book or putting the ebook on my Kindle, I opted for the ten disc audio book. I have to say, listening to the audio book was a real adventure and one I will always remember. The first thing I want to say is that the narrator, Khristine Hvam, is super fantastic. She’s able to do so many different voices and accents for all the characters. I didn’t think that was possible. Just when I thought she’d exhausted her collection, a new character would enter the picture and she’d be off with another voice. Not only that, but I really enjoyed the sound of her voice. It’s got a real storytelling quality to it that’s great to relax and listen to for hours on end. Listening to the audio book also meant I could spend more time knitting, or doing other crafty things while a story was read to me. Yay, for multitasking with crafts and books!

The second thing I really enjoyed were the locations used in the book. Most Young Adult novels are set in some boring small town, or some fantasy setting. But this was set in the city of Prague for the most part, with occasional jaunts to other cities and places around the world. And, oh yeah, there was still that fantastical setting too. There was variety in the places and in the characters that we don’t normally see, which was a breath of fresh air.

The third thing I want to talk about is the plot. It’s interesting. There are angels and demons, but you’re not seeing them the way you typically see them in books. Both sides have good and bad parts to them. Individual characters are both good and bad. They’re realistic while still being fantastical. Because of this, you can’t really know what will happen next with the plot. Nothing is predictable. At the same time, I feel I should warn you that the book does jump around in time. A LOT. Be prepared. Especially while listening to an audio book where you won’t get the cues of an extra space between paragraphs or a symbol telling you something’s changing. This changing around doesn’t get too confusing. At least, it didn’t for me. But don’t let that keep you from reading, or listening to, the book.

Overall, I can’t recommend this audio book enough. I’m already looking forward to the next one!

So Silver Bright – A Review

Posted on January 23rd, 2014 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff
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so silver bright

So Silver Bright by Lisa Mantchev

Read by: Anna/Copley Teen Room

Here is my review for the first book in this trilogy, Eyes Like Stars: http://www.bpl.org/teens/2012/02/22/eyes-like-stars-a-review/

Here is my review for the second book in the trilogy, Perchance To Dream: http://www.bpl.org/teens/2012/08/22/perchance-to-dream-a-review/

So, I began reading this trilogy two years ago (!) when the third book, So Silver Bright, arrived at the library. The cover caught my attention and made me go back and check out the first two. But, in reviewing them, others checked them out, and I couldn’t check out the third book right away. Life happened, as life tends to do, until now. I should have picked up the third book sooner. I should have put it on hold. But anyway, none of that matters. What matters is that even two years later, this series is still fantastic!

This is the story of a young girl named Beatrice Shakespeare Smith, who wants nothing more than to see her parents reunited and her family brought back together again. Her mother is Ophelia from Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet. Her father, was the stranger she fell in love with 17 years ago. Beatrice, known to her friends as Bertie, has two suitors. One is a pirate called Nate, who hails from the play The Little Mermaid. The other is the air sprite from another play by Shakespeare, The Tempest. And her four best friends are the little fairies from A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream. See where this is all going? Bertie lives in a magical theater where every character from every play ever written lives, trapped there by The Complete Works of the Stage, the book that holds all those plays. Bertie heads off on an adventure in an effort to save Nate from the Sea Godess, Sedna, and to find her father and bring him back to the theater for her mother. Of course, nothing goes as planned. The group meets new friends along the way, but also meets up with those who would do them harm for a few magical trinkets. Bertie finds that she has magical powers of her own too. She is known as Mistress of Revels, Teller of Tales, Forest Queen, and she’s a word-smith on top of all that!

Over all, this is a great, light-hearted trilogy, even with dire happenings. The four fairies are still hilarious with their jokes about pie and other things, and I still consider them one of the best parts about the whole trilogy. I loved finding a book that could make me laugh at stupid things the way they did, even when their situation wasn’t as fun as eating through an entire chocolate cake. Throughout the book you’re left to wonder how on earth Bertie will be able to choose between her two suitors. I wouldn’t dare give that one away, but the ending is quite satisfying, if I do say so myself! Her Gracious Majesty, Queen of the Distant Castle, would like to award Bertie one wish-come-true. Can she use it to bring her family back together again? Or is that something beyond magic?

You’ll have to read to find out. But I promise a great adventure while you do! I’m not sure this review does the trilogy justice, but know that this series rocks! And I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good read.

Secretariat – A Review

Posted on August 14th, 2013 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff
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Secretariat

Secretariat by William Nack

Read by: Anna/Central Library Teen Room

This is the true story of a race horse named Secretariat who won the Triple Crown (a series of three races at three different tracks run consecutively) in 1973. This is the story of how he came to be, charting his history back to the late 1800′s, as well as the history of his owners and their farms. How he won each race he ran, is explained, the excitement of the track, of those who owned him and his millions of fans is spelled out as if you, the reader, were right there, standing next to the colt as he nuzzles your neck. Yup, now you’ve got horse snot on you. This book feels that real. William Nack writes it as if you were there, as if you were Ron Turcotte, his jockey, racing him down the backstretch at some of the world’s most well known and well loved race tracks, having mud slung in your face as your heart beats insanely, wondering how the race will play out. Secretariat was a special horse. He ran races like nobody else, coming up from behind to steal first place and beat the other horses by several lengths. He amazed the world.

Yes, this is a non-fiction book, but if you love horses and horse racing, you’ll love the way this book is written. It reads as you would read a fiction book. And it’s definitely not a book you can put down. When I got to the end I had some time to think about it and wonder what I would do now that the book was over. I felt as if I was leaving good, life-long friends behind, including the Big Red horse. I highly recommend this book. I can’t say that enough. And even though it’s a somewhat thick non-fiction book, Nack takes the time to explain what some of the racing lingo means, so those new to it won’t feel completely at a loss or like they’re requiring a dictionary while they read. He does it in the best way possible, so you never feel like he’s talking down to you either. What an exhilarating ride!

The Foundation Trilogy: Foundation – A Review

Posted on August 5th, 2013 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff
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the foundation trilogy

The Foundation Trilogy: Foundation (Book 1) by: Isaac Asimov

Read by: Anna/ Central Library Teen Room

This is an epic story. It has been called The Lord Of The Rings for Science Fiction. The first book starts off with a man predicting the demise of a galactic empire that has already survived for twelve thousand years! He predicts its downfall in three hundred years, yet, no one wants to believe him. Nor do they want to care. Why should they? They certainly won’t be around in three hundred years to care. Leave it to the future people to bother with the bad stuff. But this scientist will not back down. And as he predicts, things start to fall apart. Each section of the book jumps forward in time several decades, with new characters each time trying to solve the galaxy’s problems by creating war or by trying to avoid war.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started the first book in the trilogy. I’d been told that readers of science fiction (and writers as well) should not miss this epic, so I bought a copy and then it sat on my coffee table for a few years before I got around to starting it. But now that I’ve started it, and finished the first book, I’m actually looking forward to reading the second book, Foundation and Empire. It is a very political book and also deals with a lot of mathematics and science, three topics I usually prefer to avoid at all costs. That being said, I really enjoyed this book. It’s a quiet read. There isn’t much action, no space ships gunning for each other as some of the covers might have you believe. But there is just enough to keep you wondering what’s going to happen. It’s also interesting to read a book where you have some idea of what’s going to come because it’s already been predicted. One would say that doesn’t make for a good book. Readers like to be surprised, but it works here, and I was surprised. A lot. The way some of the characters handled the different situations they got themselves into was interesting and not at all what I was expecting.

In short, if you love Science Fiction, you should not miss out on this classic which was first published in 1951, over 60 years ago! Talk about a series that’s lasted! This trilogy (and the related books that followed the trilogy) are still very much popular today as they were back then. Of course, in reading these books, one must remember the time period in which they were written. There are almost no women or girls in the first book, Foundation. In the 1950′s this was a man’s world, and women stayed at home, cooked, cleaned, and looked after the children. They didn’t have jobs or anything like that. Thus, I’m assuming that Asimov assumed in the future they would be the same as in his world, staying at home and out of trouble. That was the biggest similarity to the 1950′s I could find. If you get a chance to read it, see what others you can find. They shouldn’t ruin your reading experience. They’re just a bit of an example of how people used to live and how things might be in the future, as seen by someone 60 years ago.

The Art of Racing in the Rain – A Review

Posted on July 30th, 2013 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff
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the art of racing in the rain

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

Read by: Anna/Central Library Teen Room

Our Teen Book of the Month group is reading this book for our August 14th book discussion at 3pm in the Central Library Teen Room.

Enzo is a mixed breed dog named after the founder of the Italian car company, Ferrari. He’s also owned by a professional race car driver, Denny. The story is told through the point of view of Enzo as he recounts his life with his human family on the night he realizes he won’t be making a round trip ride to the vet the next morning. His mobility issues are making it increasingly harder for him to move around as he gets older and older.  Enzo learned a lot about life through Denny and his racing tips and tricks and he applied them to the obstacles in his way whenever he could. Their family life wasn’t the greatest. Denny’s wife died from brain cancer and Denny ended up in a legal battle with her parents over the custody of his daughter. Enzo knew the grandparents were not nice people and didn’t like the fact that Zoe, the daughter, had to spend so much time with them. Money is tight for Denny, he’s lost his wife, might lose his daughter to his in-laws, but he’ll never lose Enzo. Enzo is always there for him and for Zoe, when he can be, helping to keep their spirits up and to keep them going when things get tough.

This was an AWESOME book. But don’t read it in public. Unless you don’t mind bringing a large hanky and a bucket to collect your tears in. This book will have you bawling your eyes out and laughing hard in certain places. You will learn a lot about life, as Enzo did, and have a good time doing it. There are a lot of references to racing cars, but you don’t have to have a love of cars to read this and enjoy it, which is another reason it’s a great read. I highly recommend it to everyone who loves dogs especially.