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Posts Tagged ‘review’

The Crystal Cave – A Review

Posted on August 13th, 2014 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff

The Crystal Cave

***FYI, our TBOM book discussion group for teens will be meeting on August 28th at 3pm in the Teen Room to discuss this book. All teens are welcome to join us!***

The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart

Read by Anna/Central Teen Room

Everyone has a basic understanding of who Merlin is. Right? He was the famous wizard who raised King Arthur and helped him when he finally became king. However, what most people don’t know, is how Merlin was born and raised and how he grew into his position as king’s prophet. This first book in Mary Stewart’s series of Arthurian Saga starts us off when Merlin is a small boy, the son of a princess who refuses to reveal who Merlin’s father is. It is speculated that his father is the Prince of Darkness, a demon who came into his mother’s room late at night and left her pregnant with Merlin. Merlin is shunned as a bastard son, but fate leads him on an amazing path from learning “magic” to helping not just one king in love and war, but several.  He is able to move on past his childhood. He makes friends and enemies, but always stays true to himself.

While this telling of Merlin’s life is based on a real person who lived around the year 470 A.D. (when it is suspected that King Arthur was born), in her Author’s Note at the end, Mary Stewart is quick to recognize that her work is complete fiction. There is much we don’t know about the great prophet and prince, or King Arthur for that matter. Yet that should not hinder anyone from enjoying a good story. I was enchanted right from the very first page which begins with Merlin in old age preparing to tell the story of his early years. He has an easy going manner in the way he tells his story, drawing you in and not letting you go until the story is complete. And while he is technically telling the story as an old man, you often forget he is recalling his childhood because it seems as if you are there, right beside him as he gets into trouble as a young boy, as he grows up and goes in search of his father. He is a character you cannot help but love and this is a story you cannot help but enjoy.  I highly recommend this novel for those who enjoy historical fantasy, with the knowledge that Merlin wasn’t a wizard as we think of them today. He did not have a magic wand or a pointy hat. He considered himself a prophet and was never in control of his visions. He could not tell the future upon command. As long as you aren’t expecting Harry Potter, you’ll enjoy this fun read.

The 2nd and 3rd books in this series are also told from Merlin’s POV, while the 4th and 5th take place after his death. They are as follows:

Book Two: The Hollow Hills (Merlin’s POV)

Book Three: The Last Enchantment (Merlin’s POV)

Book Four: The Wicked Day (focuses on Mordred)

Book Five: The Prince and the Pilgrim (focuses on Alexander)

The Face Of Fear – A Review

Posted on June 24th, 2014 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff, Teen Services

The Face Of Fear

The Face of Fear by Dean Koontz

Read by: Anna/Central Teen Room

Graham Harris was once a strong mountain climber, risking his life on the toughest mountains around the world. But one fall from Mount Everest has ruined his climbing career. His new found fear of heights has taken over his life. However, Graham is now clairvoyant. Ever since that fall he realizes he can see things before they happen. Gruesome things he would rather know nothing about. When he starts seeing the death of more women to a stalker known as The Butcher, the police seek out his help. Then he sees a vision of his own murder.

This was creepy as all heck. Creepy, dark, mysterious, and scary. All of the above. The Butcher is not someone you want to meet in daylight, much less in dark. Who is the butcher? I can’t tell you that or it would spoil the story. But I can tell you he’s someone you wouldn’t hesitate to let into your house if you didn’t know his secrets. Much like Dean Koontz’s other works, The Face of Fear is a fast paced read that cannot be put down. If you enjoy suspense, and a dash of gruesomeness, this is the book for you. Koontz knows how to spin words to keep readers in their seats and staring at the pages as they fly by.

Forever – A Review

Posted on May 13th, 2014 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff

Forever

Forever by Maggie Stiefvater

Read by:  Anna/Central Library

Forever is the final book in the Wolves of Mercy Falls Trilogy and chronicles the lives of Sam, who can no longer shift into his wolf form, his girlfriend, Grace, who is now learning to live life part-time as a wolf, Isabel who’s still not entirely thrilled with events as they unfold, and Cole, who has taken this opportunity to search for a cure.

Isabel’s father, Tom Culpepper, has gone to those men high up in the government that he can trust to get a helicopter raid on the wolves. He wants them dead for killing his son and several other teens. He wants the wolves dead. Now. The four teens, Sam, Grace, Isabel, and Cole, struggle to figure out what their future will look like post high school graduation while at the same time feeling lost as to what to do about the helicopter raid that will wipe out their family and friends.  What’s a part-time werewolf to do?

This book was just as good as the others in the trilogy. Even toward the end, the characters stayed in character. Those that did change, did it gradually and over a long period of time, keeping things very realistic for a book about werewolves. The believability of these books was something I really enjoyed. Reading this, I can very well believe that werewolves actually do exist. Of course they do. These are teens who are thrust out into the world on their own, struggling to figure out where they belong, and how to survive in a cruel world. It’s not easy. Yes, these teens do have parents who are also struggling with their own lives, but even so, the teens know they’re on their own. They can’t go to their parents for help because their parents wouldn’t understand. If you’ve read the other two books, you’ll know exactly why Sam doesn’t like trusting outsiders with the information that they’re not entirely human. Help does come in the most unlikely form, and when it does, it doesn’t take over the story. This new person doesn’t have all the magical answers, but helps them the best way possible. Nothing is perfect. And the romance between Sam and Grace, once again, was believable and sweet; a quiet assuredness that they’d found The One . It was great to see that in a young couple. On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have Isabel and Cole. They don’t really get along. And yet, they also get along extremely well at the same time because they’re a lot alike. It was good to see them in contrast to Grace and Sam. They were a good balance to the relationship spectrum.

In short, I loved this series because I love werewolves, I loved the relationships here, and I loved just how realistic these books were.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone – A Review

Posted on April 11th, 2014 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff

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!

Burning Blue – A Review

Posted on September 27th, 2013 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Teens

burning blue

Burning Blue by Paul Griffin

Read by: Anna/Central Library Teen Room

Nicole Castro was a rich, beautiful girl. Everyone thought so. She’d recently won a beauty contest for a scholarship. But she was also smart and kind. People said those things about her too. Then one day while she was rushing to class someone popped up out of nowhere and squirted acid into her face, into her left eye, leaving her scarred for life. But the question is, who did it? And why? Enter Jay Nazzaro, rhymes with Sbarro. He has epilepsy and knows what it’s like to be embarrassed in front of the entire school while unconsciously flopping around on the floor while everyone takes pictures and videos to post online of his public seizure. He’s intent on making everyone think he’s stupid by using an old flip phone and asking the cute girl behind the Starbucks counter how to text his father back.  But looks can be deceiving. Jay is a hacker who likes to keep his computer parts looking cheap and worthless. His flip phone is smarter than any smart phone around and he’s determined to figure out who is the cruelest person in his hometown. Who would burn Nicole Castro? Is it her boyfriend? One of the teachers? One of Nicole’s rich tennis friends? Or someone else entirely? Jay and Nicole have never even talked to each other before but they may just become the best of friends, if not something more.

I picked up this book and right away I couldn’t put it down. There is a romance in it, but it’s very understated. Jay continually tells people he and Nicole are not in a relationship. The medical issues in the book, Jay’s seizures and Nicole’s acid burns, are spot on well researched and written to be easily understood. It helps that the author, Paul Griffin, is a volunteer EMT who also works with at-risk , special needs, and incarcerated teens, which brings a realness to his writing. This is not your typical mystery. There is no dead body. No murder. Instead, Jay is trying to figure out who would want to burn Nicole’s face. Half of her face is gone. She’s having to go to the hospital for skin grafts, where the doctor takes skin from another part of her body and uses it to cover her face. Never-the-less, her face won’t be the same again. She won’t be the same again. And the truth of what happened will astound you. You won’t see it coming. This is a fast read, but make sure you’ve got the time to read it cover to cover. You won’t want to put this one down.

Our TBOM book discussion group will be talking about it on October 1st, next Tuesday! Come in and get your copy today so you can join us next week for snack food and a good conversation!