Saturday, February 17, 2018

A Lady in the Smoke

A Lady in the Smoke
By Karen Odden
Penguin Random House, 2016. 411 pages. Mystery

Set in Victorian England, Lady Elizabeth Fraser, the only child of the late Earl of Kellham, and who is said to have a dowry worth £10,000 per anum, is set to return home after a disappointing fourth Season in London. At the ball held the previous evening, Lady Elizabeth was shocked to overhear two ladies discussing the loss of her fortune, but when she confronts her mother, Lady Fraser is enraged and blames Elizabeth for not getting hitched sooner.

The next day, they board a train to return to their ancestral country estate, but a short time later the train careens off the rails and bursts into flames. Lady Elizabeth is thrown forward and hits her head and is knocked unconscious. After coming to, she manages to drag herself and her unconscious mother out of the wreckage but is unable to do more. Amid the chaos, a handsome young railway surgeon arrives, attends to their wounds and gets them moved to a local hotel. Elizabeth feels an immediate connection with Paul Wilcox though society would never accept a match between the daughter of an earl and a medical man. But headstrong Elizabeth refuses to let society’s strictures get in the way of helping him attend to the wounded. While helping, Elizabeth learns that the train wreck was no accident and the inspector who tried to prevent it died under mysterious circumstances.

As Elizabeth begins her own investigation, she discovers that the loss of her fortune may somehow be connected and is soon plunged into a dangerous conspiracy that reaches the highest levels of political power in England.

This is an enjoyable debut novel by Karen Odden about a headstrong young noblewoman unafraid to navigate a man’s world and reach for what she most desires. There is plenty of intrigue like family secrets, political conspiracies, lovers who are kept apart and more. I also enjoyed the historical details especially about the railway system in England. Fans of Anne Perry’s Victorian mysteries will likely enjoy this novel as well.

AJ

Friday, February 16, 2018

Food Anatomy

Food Anatomy
By Julia Rothman
Storey Publishing, 2016. 221 pgs. Nonfiction

Have you ever wondered what all of those forks are for when you see a formal place setting? Rothman starts her book showing place settings from around the world and the evolution of the oven before delving into the "curious parts and pieces of our edible world" as the subtitle states.

She gives a brief history of food and then goes on to illustrate fruits, vegetables, meats, grains, spices, street foods, and finally desserts that can be found the world over. In hand drawn and colored illustrations this book is a visual treat. I found this book to be completely captivating! This was a such a quick read, due to the sparse text and interesting pictures, that I read it in a matter of hours.

AMM

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Maisie Dobbs

Maisie Dobbs
By Jacqueline Winspear
Soho Crime, 2014. 304 pages.


Maisie Dobbs does not confine herself to the expectation of what a 1920s London woman should be: she is naturally intelligent, a college-graduate, and has just recently opened a private detective agency in the city. But when her first client hires her to investigate his wife’s suspected infidelity, Maisie uncovers a much more sinister plot that forces her to relive the horrors of her past history during World War I.

If you enjoy both Downton Abbey and classic, Miss Marple-type whodunits, then you need to give Maisie Dobbs a go. This book is the first of many in the series, and as such focuses less on the main mystery and more on Maisie Dobbs’s personal history. If you are a newbie to the mystery genre, but enjoy a good British period drama, this first installment is a great gateway. Need a good book for your next book club meeting? You can reserve this book as a set for your club.

ALL

Monday, February 12, 2018

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue
by Mackenzi Lee
Katherine Tegen Books, 2017,528 pgs. Young Adult

Henry Montague “Monty” is going touring with his best friend Percy on one last hurrah before he is forced to stay home and manage his family’s estate. The only flaws in this tour is his father is threatening him to be on his best behavior or else he will disinherit Monty and give the estate to his baby brother, and he has to take his fifteen year old sister Felicity along and drop her off at finishing school along the way. After a tedious beginning the company find themselves running for their lives when some highway men try and kill them. This road trip is one of the most compelling teen novels set in Victorian Europe.

I loved this book. First thing is first I would not say this book is for everyone. I would recommend that this book be read by older teens. This book covers a lot of social issues that I feel are really important and topics that are currently gaining ground as being things to take into consideration. First off Monty is bisexual his best friend is homosexual and as you can imagine in Victorian Europe how well that went over. After talking about what people may struggle with I really want to talk about what I loved. Now my favorite character was his little sister Felicity she is amazing! I loved that they talk about consent when one person says no all making out stops. Period. I also loved the Conclusion. That is all I will say on that one and I am so excited to read Felicity’s novel next year when it comes out.

 MH

Adulthood is a Myth

Adulthood is a Myth
by Sarah Andersen Andrews
McMeel Publishing, 2016. 106 pgs. Graphic Novels


Sarah Andersen is a graphic novel artist who depicts life for all those in transition from childhood to this mythical stage called adulthood we have all heard about. Her art style portrays the thoughts that go through people’s head as we deal with the social anxiety of talking to other people, and just navigating through a life where more often than not it feels like we are making it up as we go along.

This graphic novel had me rolling I was laughing the entire time as I was going through each of the pictures. I love Sarah’s perspective and comedic way she tells stories of daily life.

MH

Becoming Kareem: Growing Up On and Off the Court

Cover image for Becoming Kareem : growing up on and off the court
Becoming Kareem: Growing Up On and Off the Court
By Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Little, Brown and Co, 289 pages, Young Adult Nonfiction

An autobiography about Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and his life growing up in New York, becoming the basketball star he's known to be, and getting involved in the world around him as an activist for social change.

Although not as focused on basketball as I was expecting this to be, Abdul-Jabbar has some interesting things to say about his experience growing up as a young black man in Harlem during the days of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. Unfortunately, most of the points he raises are still concerns that exist today. I thought this was a good companion piece to The Hate U Give, with the bonus of not having as much sensitive content. Plus, the story of Abdul-Jabbar's rise to basketball fame, and the work he put in to get there, is an interesting addition to the story.

MB

I Believe in a Thing Called Love

I Believe in a Thing Called Love
By Maurene Goo
Farrar Straus Giroux, 2017. 325 pgs. Young Adult

High school senior Desi Lee is good at everything, except flirting. Her flirting failures are legendary, and when the new guy at school, Luca Drakos, catches her attention, she develops a crazy plan to win him over... Korean drama style. Desi had ignored the K-dramas her dad watches every night of her life, where the hapless heroine always ends up in the arms of her true-love by episode ten, but suddenly she sees their formulaic approach to love in a new light. After studiously binge watching several dramas, Desi is armed with a list of steps that always work in K-drama world, and she sets her plan into motion. A boat rescue, love triangle, and staged car crash are all fit into her master plan, but she will learn that true love is more than just drama.

As an avid Korean drama fan, I loved this book, and not just because it referenced several K-dramas that I was familiar with, but also because it read like a rom-com K-drama. It was fun, quirky, heart-warming, and sometimes a little cringe worthy (it’s not a good idea to have your friends throw nails on the road so that you and your crush get to experience a crisis together). If you enjoy light-hearted young-adult romance, this is an easy recommendation from me. If you enjoy Korean dramas, this is a must read.

ACS

Eyes of the World: Robert Capa, Gerda Taro, and the Invention of Modern Photojournalism

Cover image for Eyes of the world : Robert Capa, Gerda Taro, and the invention of modern photojournalism
Eyes of the World: Robert Capa, Gerda Taro, and the Invention of Modern Photojournalism
By Marc Aronson
Henry Holt and Co, 294 pages, Young Adult Nonfiction

Robert Capa and Gerda Taro were young Jewish refugees, idealistic and in love. As photographers in the 1930s, they set off to capture their generation's most important struggle--the fight against Fascism. Among the first to depict modern warfare, Capa, Taro, and their friend Chim took powerful photographs of the Spanish Civil War that went straight from the action to news magazines. They brought a human face to war with their iconic shots of people driven from their homes by bombs, guns, and planes. Today, our screens are flooded with images from around the world. But Capa and Taro were pioneers, bringing home the crises and dramas of their time--and helping give birth to the idea of bearing witness through technology.

The story of Robert Capa and Gerda Taro is somewhat romantic since it’s the story of two young lovers, but this is mostly the story of the birth of photojournalism and the events leading up to World War II. While the market is not lacking in World War II era nonfiction, this different perspective brought up events that I probably learned in high school, but had completely forgotten about. I ended up doing a few Internet deep dives to learn more about some of the surrounding events because I was so interested in the time period. The book is a little unwieldy since it’s a little larger than normal, and printed on heavy high quality paper, but every page contains at least one of Capa, Taro, or Chim’s photos illustrating the topic covered on the page, and the book is very well-written. I highly recommend this book, and am glad to say that this book was a finalist in this year’s Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) award for Excellence in Nonfiction.

MB

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Orphan Train: a Novel

Orphan Train: a Novel
by Christina Baker Kline
William Morrow, 2013. 278 pgs. Fiction

A memorable novel of two women: Molly, a teenager in foster care and Vivian, a nonagenarian who in 1929 at age nine was sent West on an orphan train after her parents died in a fire. When Molly is assigned to do community service to avoid a term in juvenile detention, her boyfriend arranges for her to help widowed Vivian organize her attic.  Seemingly very different, these two women find that they have much to offer one another and much to learn from each other.  Vivian's life and memories seem to have stagnated along with the trunks full of possessions gathering dust in her attic.  As Molly helps her organize and sort the attic, Vivian's stories come tumbling out.

This is a wonderful novel that would be appropriate for adult or young adult readers. SH


Thursday, February 8, 2018

Warm Bodies

Warm Bodies 
by Isaac Marion
Emily Bestler Books, 2011. 241 pages.

Romeo and Juliet’s love story get a paranormal makeover in this surprisingly poignant and funny zombie romance. Meet R, a brain-eating zombie with no memories, no identity, and no pulse. But he has thoughts. He dreams of a better life. He enjoys collecting things and listening to old records (mostly Frank Sinatra). And he hopes to one day find meaning to his otherwise lifeless existence.

Enter Julie. Julie is a living human being, and the most interesting person R has ever met. When R rescues Julie from a zombie attack, the two form a special friendship. Through this relationship, R becomes more human, leading the couple to believe that maybe there is a cure that can transform their lifeless world.

What really makes this story work is the inner dialogue of the endearingly adorable R. Often funny and witty, sometimes bordering on the existential, this is a perfect heart-warming romance for those that like a little gory side-action. If you enjoyed the 2013 John Malkovich movie of this story, the book will give you all the same happy and lovey feels, just in time for Valentine’s Day!

ALL

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet

Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet
By Ta-Nehisi Coates
Marvel, 2016, 144 pgs. Graphic Novel.

When a superhuman terrorist group that calls itself The People sparks a violent uprising, the land famed for its incredible technology and proud warrior traditions will be thrown into turmoil. If Wakanda is to survive, it must adapt - but can its monarch survive the necessary change?

Before I start my praise for this book, there is one thing you need to remember before reading it. This is a comic, with lots of history and future issues to be released. As such, when I started reading this, I very much felt that I had dropped into the middle of a story. However, this is a fantastically rich and well written comic. The characters are given real depth, and the history and culture of the country of Wakanda is emphasized in both the writing and artwork. The Black Panther is shown as a vulnerable person, not just a superhero, and there are real moral dilemmas for him to handle. The supporting characters are interesting and cool in their own right and the story has plenty of action and adventure. I'm excited to see where the series goes during Ta-Nehisi Coates tenure and can't wait to see how the problems of this series are wrapped up. It's also a good tie-in to characters if you are preparing to see the new movie coming out and want to have some more knowledge of them.

Monday, February 5, 2018

The Girl in the Tower

The Girl in the Tower
by Katherine Arden
Del Rey, 2018, 362 pgs.  Fantasy

The Girl in the Tower is book two of the Winternight Trilogy.  The first in the series, The Bear and the Nightingale, introduces readers to Vasya, a young girl torn between an emerging modern Christian world and the legends and magic of the deep Russian forests where she lives.  In this second installment, Vanya travels beyond her small village to the huge city of Moscow where dark magic threatens to destroy the peace of the kingdom.

I can’t praise this series enough.  It’s dark fairy magic captivates me on every page.  The characters are engaging, the action is exhilarating, and the writing is simply lovely.  I am very excited that, unlike many trilogies, I don’t have to wait a whole year for the final volume.  The Winter of the Witch will be released in August and I am anxious to learn where Vasya’s adventures  lead her. 

CG

Irresistible

Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked
by Adam L. Alter
Penguin Press, 2017. 354 pgs. Nonfiction

Adam Alter, a professor of psychology and marketing at NYU, writes in Irresistible about the damage being done by the technology you just can’t seem put down.  Think about the number of times you pick up your cell phone each day and ask yourself if you are addicted.  It’s very likely that you are and Alter explains why this is so dangerous and why those addictive behaviors are so hard to overcome.  He argues that technology isn’t all bad, but it does need to be harnessed and used in a way that enriches our lives instead of consuming our every waking moment.

I really enjoyed this book and, while he did scare me straight a little bit, he didn’t do it in a sensationalized way.  It is nearly impossible to live a life without technology and why give up so much that all our little apps have to offer?  But we need to be very conscious about how we interact with technology, especially as we teach the rising generation by our examples.  This is a wonderful book that can help almost anyone become more aware of their technology consumption.

CG

Thursday, February 1, 2018

365 Days of Slow Cooking

365 Days of Slow Cooking 
by Karen Bellessa Petersen
Covenant Communications, 2012. 265 pgs. Nonfiction

Slow cooking is a great way to make dinner preparation less of a burden and take pleasure in more freedom around dinnertime. This volume of slow cooker recipes is full of delicious, easy to prepare recipes for the whole family to enjoy. Icons indicate recipes that take two minutes or less to prepare, recipes that are good to use if you’ll be gone all day, and Karen’s personal favorites.

I loved this recipe book! We actually have two different editions, one from 2010 and the other from 2012. My favorite thing about the 2010 edition is it has a 3 to 5 star rating for each recipe. The 2012 edition doesn’t have the ratings, but I really like the icons and pictures in the later edition. The best overall feature of this cookbook is that the recipes are simple.

ER

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Cottage Kitchen

The Cottage Kitchen: Cozy Cooking in the English Countryside
By Marte Marie Forsberg
Clarkson Potter Publishers, 2017. 288 pages. Nonfiction

I don't normally write reviews of cookbooks, but Forsberg added so much personal detail and story to her book that I read it like a novel. This is partly a recounting of how she grew up in Norway, traditions that her mother set down and that she returned to in adulthood. It's also partly a coming-of-age or at least a coming-into-adulthood story. In the beginning, Forsberg has just purchased a cottage for herself in the English countryside, and experiences the change of the seasons in her new town as she undergoes the growth that comes with creating a life for yourself that is uniquely yours. Not without setbacks, Forsberg uses recipes from her childhood and trips abroad as an anchor as she forges ahead in her new surroundings.

With recipes that are accompanied by her striking photography, the book is as pleasurable visually as it is narratively. I appreciated Forsberg's use of both Celsius and Fahrenheit, as well as ingredient listings in both metric (grams, milliliters), and US measurements (tablespoons, cups, ounces). I was also pleased to see that many of Forsberg's recipes were accessible to an inexperienced cook such as myself, often using only five or six simple ingredients, and yet with a delicious understanding of flavors and technique. Her cooking methods are a bit more rustic and traditional (you won't find any Instant Pot recipes here), which will appeal to anyone motivated by a "back to basics" style of living. Forsberg's writing is deeply sentimental which may not appeal to more practical readers, but it will be perfect for anyone who sees the romance in finding a cottage in the countryside and hunkering down in front of a fire with something warm and cheery to enjoy.

BHG

The Velvet Hours

The Velvet Hours
By Alyson Richman
Berkley, 2016. 384 pages. Historical Fiction

As Paris is confronted with the looming threat of German occupation in 1942, Solange Beaugiron is shocked to learn that the grandmother she never knew is alive and living in an apartment in the city.  As Solange begins to visit with her grandmother, Marthe de Florian, she learns of her life as a courtesan during La Belle Epoque, and the cultivated art and beauty that she has surrounded herself with.  Most striking is a magnificent portrait of Marthe painted by the noted Italian artist Giovanni Boldini.  Solange is captivated by her grandmother's story, but as the German troops near, she's not sure if there will be enough time to hear it all.

I remember reading news articles a few years ago about an apartment in Paris that lay untouched for 70 years. I was intrigued, but at the time I didn't quite gather how fascinating the life of the original occupant was. Richman has taken what research is available about about Marthe de Florian and built a story around it to fill in the spaces, albeit fictionally, of what we know. What resulted is a captivating book about life in France between La Belle Epoch and World War II. The centerpoint of the real apartment - a stunning portrait of de Florian by Giovanni Boldini, is woven into the story in exquisite detail.  Although the twin stories of Solange and Marthe are a bit oddly juxtaposed at times, Richman has created a very satisfying story for anyone whose curiosity is piqued by this story of an abandoned-apartment-turned-time-capsule.

This book is an "Always Available" audiobook on Overdrive, meaning that there is no wait to read it.

BHG

Solo

Solo
by Kwame Alexander
Blink, 2017. 424 pages. Young Adult

Blade has it all - but he wishes he didn't. Being the son of famed rock legend Rutherford Morrison comes with as much loss, scandal, and dysfunction as fame and fortune. Blade takes solace in writing, his girlfriend, and knowing that soon he'll be off to college, until his father's antics and the revelation of a family secret devastate all his hopes for a fresh start. Feeling more lost and confused than ever before, Blade sets off on a journey to learn about his past, and hopefully, his future.

As a kid, I often wondered what it would be like to be famous or have famous parents, and I remember how funny it was to read an interview with a child celebrity who said they used to imagine they had an "ordinary life." The grass is always greener, as they say, and this story definitely plays on this theme. I really liked Blade as a character; despite being a rich, naturally talented son of a rock star, his struggle to establish his identity and desire to strike out on his own will remind you of your own teen angst. Readers who have passed through that gauntlet of life will sympathize with and agonize over Blade's youthful (often narrow) perspective, and cheer his transition from child to young adult. I kept thinking to myself, "Oh I remember those days! Thank God I survived!" This book also explores family relationships, and complicated ones at that as Blade's family has felt deep loss and the effects of addiction. I loved that the audio book had Blade's songs performed by a professional musician. The final song, ah, it's so beautiful! Even if you prefer physical books, I strongly recommend having the audio book on hand so you can hear the songs performed.

MW




Saturday, January 27, 2018

The Secret of the India Orchid

The Secret of the India Orchid
By Nancy Campbell Allen
Shadow Mountain, 2017. 314 pgs. Historical Fiction, Romance

On the very day that Anthony Blake, Earl of Wilshire, plans to ask for permission to court Sophia Elliot he is forced to resume his role as an undercover spy for Britain when an important document is stolen that gives detailed information about British spies. To protect the ones he loves, he must cut all ties and assume the role of a flirtatious playboy. Sophia is heartbroken and confused and eventually decides to travel to India in hopes of finding healing. India does not bring the peace she was hoping for because she soon finds herself in the center of a mystery. There is a missing sea captain, a possible murder and some kind of plot involving the prince of India. To her surprise Anthony shows up at the British Residency, playing his part, but also asking a lot of questions.

This was a fascinating book. I loved learning more about the British experience in India during the Regency era. The mystery added a fun twist to the story. The romance between Anthony and Sophia was wonderful. They cared deeply for each other but had a lot of obstacles to overcome in order to share their love. This is part of the Proper Romance series and is perfect for someone looking for a clean romance with some added suspense.

AL

For Love or Honor

For Love or Honor
by Sarah M. Eden
Covenant Communications, 2017. 256 pgs. Historical Romance

Stanley Jonquil knew there was something special about Marjie the first time he met her. She was sweet and kind and was able to help him heal from an injury he received as a British soldier fighting against Napoleon. When Napoleon escaped, Stanley had to lead his men into the horrifying battle of Waterloo. His thoughts of Marjie and the letters she sent were the only thing that kept him going. The family doesn't hear from Stanley for months until he unexpectedly returns home. He has been severely wounded physically and has faced horrors that have wounded him emotionally. He is determined to keep his distance and not show anyone the darkness inside him, especially Marjie. Marjie doesn't give up easily and she is determined to help him heal so that hopefully they can find a way to be together.

This was a well written book that dealt with some heavy topics. Sarah Eden does not shy away from the horrors of war and how it impacted the soldiers and their loved ones. This is a continuation of the Jonquil family books so a lot of favorite characters make an appearance and there are some great new characters too, like Pluck. He was so funny! This is a good mixture of  serious issues and humor and there is really nothing not to like in this book.

AL

Friday, January 26, 2018

Damsels

Damsels
By Leah Moore
Dynamite Entertainment, 2017. 144 pgs. Graphic Novel

The princesses of classic fairy tales band together to save their kingdoms from war! Rapa, a redheaded girl with a fiery spirit and lost memories, discovers a conspiracy that threatens the peace among all the mythical creatures of the land. Joined by the Little Mermaid, the Frog Prince, and Red Riding Hood, Rapa journeys through fabled forests and legendary realms on a quest to find who stole her identity and foil their scheme!

This graphic novel reads a lot like how I would picture a Once Upon a Time book reading. The princesses are strong, independent women who take an active role in defeating their enemies and the book itself is a really interesting combination of stories and fairy tales. There are a lot of twists and turns in the plot and the story is definitely not Disney, so don't expect everyone to have a happy ending. Overall, Damsels is a good addition to the re-thought fairy tale genre, and a lot of fun to read.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

It's All Relative: Adventures Up and Down the World's Family Tree

Cover image for It's all relative : adventures up and down the world's family tree
It’s All Relative: Adventures Up and Down the World’s Family Tree
By A.J. Jacobs
Simon & Schuster, 2017, 352 pages, Nonfiction

Perhaps best known for his book, The Year of Living Biblically, A.J. Jacobs has tackled a number of complex projects, and written comedic-yet-informative books about the experience. In It’s All Relative, his goal is to learn more about the world’s interest in family trees and DNA mapping, all while planning what he calls a Global Family Reunion—a genealogy conference focused on showing that we all have more in common than we have different.

While this is not a book dedicated to giving pro-tips to budding genealogists, it is a book that looks into why people get so interested in the subject. I thought Jacobs brought up some interesting points about the importance of realizing that we’re all connected, and he made me laugh while doing so. The audiobook is read by Jacobs himself, which helps his wry sense of humor come through.  This book will appeal to those interested in genealogy, and to those who like comedic memoirs.

MB

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine Who Outwitted America's Enemies

Cover image for The woman who smashed codes : a true story of love, spies, and the unlikely heroine who outwitted America's enemies
The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine Who Outwitted America's Enemies
By Jason Fagone
Dey St, 2017, 444 pages, Non-Fiction

Elizebeth Smith and William Friedman were a power couple in the world of cryptology. The two made major strides in the field before the invention of the computer. Today, Friedman’s work for the FBI during World War II is more recognized, and gets more attention. But while Friedman was solving Japanese codes, writing cryptology manuals, and presenting his findings at cryptology conferences, his wife, Elizebeth Smith, worked for the Coast Guard and focused on the codes of the Nazi spy rings based in South America.

This book covering the work of both Friedman and Smith was fascinating, and it was even more remarkable to me because it’s true. As someone who lightly dabbles in puzzles like cryptograms, crosswords, and Sudoku, it was interesting to see just how much science is involved in really complex puzzles. This was also an interesting look at the rise of Herbert Hoover and the formation of the FBI. Those who enjoyed Alan Turning: The Engima, the movie The Imitation Game, or books about history, spies and puzzles will enjoy this book.

MB

Saturday, January 20, 2018

The Dinosaur Lords

The Dinosaur Lords
By Victor Milan
Tor, 2015. 445 pgs. Fiction

A world made by the Eight Creators on which to play out their games of passion and power, Paradise is a sprawling, diverse, often brutal place. Men and women live on Paradise but dinosaurs predominate, and they are the weapons of choice. During the course of one epic battle, the enigmatic mercenary Dinosaur Lord Karyl Bogomirsky is defeated through betrayal and left for dead. He wakes, partially amnesiac and hunted, and embarks upon a journey that will shake his world.

I started reading this book not because I thought it would be good, but because there was a dinosaur knight on the cover. That being said, this book was surprisingly well written. The world is well thought out and immersive, and the fast paced action makes it enjoyable. The characterization is a little weaker, with some of the main characters being underutilized and one dimensional, but there were a number of compelling characters that helped move the story along. Overall, it's not a book that I would recommend to everyone, but if you like unusual fantasy, you should give this one a try. GF

Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Gospel at 30,000 Feet

The Gospel at 30,000 Feet
By Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Deseret Book, 2017. 129 pgs. Nonfiction

Dieter F. Uchtdorf had an incredibly successful career as an German aviator before being called into the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 2004. He is known for his wonderful stories and metaphors on aviation in nearly every General Conference address.

 I really enjoyed this audiobook because it is read by Elder Uchtdorf. While many of the stories were familiar from past talks, there were several stories and insights that were new to me. Since this is such a short book, I was able to listen to it twice over the course of just a few days. I would recommend this book as a wonderful, uplifting read!

AMM

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Killing the Rising Sun: How America Vanquished World War II Japan

Killing the Rising Sun: How America Vanquished World War II Japan
By Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard
Henry Holt, 2016. 323 pgs. Nonfiction

The World War II battles in the Pacific against the Japanese were brutal and very costly in human lives.  As the United States pushed the Japanese back, suffering tremendous losses on island after island, it became clear that the final land invasion of Japan would also cause many US casualties.  The Japanese were trained to never surrender and their leaders were teaching every civilian man, woman, and child to fight as well.  Meanwhile, at Los Alamos, the atom bomb was finally completed, making it possible to consider ending the war without incurring thousands of deaths and injuries of US troops.

O'Reilly and Dugard detail this background to the decision to drop the atom bomb.  They describe the battles, the personalities of the major military leaders, and the unexpected presidency of Harry Truman.  Their aim is to help the present generation understand the context of the decision to drop the first atom bomb and they do it by bringing to life in dramatic detail the closing months of World War II in the Pacific. SH

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ
by Daniel Goleman
Bantam Books, 2006. 352 pages. Nonfiction

In past decades there was a commonly held belief that intelligence was the key to success and even happiness, but Daniel Goleman’s seminal work, Emotional Intelligence, first published in 1995 revealed insight into the idea that personal qualities, such as initiative, empathy, adaptability, and persuasiveness can have more of an impact on our success in life than our IQ.

Through vivid examples, Goleman describes the important skills needed to develop emotional intelligence. An important concept in the book is that even though our experiences in childhood shape our ability to handle emotions, we all have the capacity to grow and change which can have a profound impact on our relationships, work environments, and even our physical well-being.

More than 20 years after his work was first published, Goleman’s ideas have infiltrated many of our society's beliefs and values. Reading this book today, I found myself already familiar with many of the concepts discussed. However, as more studies reveal the importance of “soft skills” such as self-regulation, empathy, generosity, and good communication, and additionally, the research frequently cites the concern that emotional intelligence is actually declining in youth today, I think this is still a very important book to read.

AJ

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

American Eclipse: A Nation's Epic Race to Catch the Shadow of the Moon and Win the Glory of the World

American Eclipse: A Nation’s Epic Race to Catch the Shadow of the Moon and Win the Glory of the World
By David Baron
Liverlight Publishing, 2017. 330 pages.

This compelling historical narrative follows three brilliant scientists as they journey into the American Wild West to witness the total solar eclipse of 1878. Astronomer James Craig Watson sought fame in discovering a new planet; celebrity inventor Thomas Edison wanted scientific fame in testing a new astronomical device; progressive female astronomer Maria Mitchell set out with a group of all-women scientists not only to study the heavens, but also to prove that science is not just for the men.

David Baron writes a highly entertaining narrative of how excitement over the 1878 eclipse swept over the nation. Anyone who lived through our own all-American eclipse of 2017 can relate to the eclipse-fever that gripped both scientists and citizens alike. Readers will also appreciate the three-dimensionality in which Baron portrays these historical figures. They are not just names that we might here in history class, but real people, with real hopes and fears and ambitions. This book was a great read for anyone interested in history, science, or biographies of great Americans. 

ALL

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Love By the Book

Love By the Book
By Melissa Pimentel
Penguin Books, 2015. 336 pages. Fiction

Lauren Cunningham has moved from America to London in search of a fabulous single life with many a romantic dalliance and no relationship commitments.  Feeling that she's a bit unlucky in love, she decides to start an experiment in which she will follow a different dating guide each month, until she finds the perfect fit for her.  What follows is a drastically different Lauren from month to month, and some interesting observations about the dating world around her.

I adore audiobook narrator Jayne Entwhistle, and so I did a search on Overdrive (our resource for downloadable ebooks and audiobooks) for any audiobooks read by her and found this book.  True to form, Entwhistle did a delightful performance.  The story, however was a bit unexpected in both that it was a little more raunchy than I thought it would be, and then was more meaningful than I expected.  The first "dating experiment" Lauren goes on was so cringe-inducingly awful that I worried the book would be "here's how to screw up every relationship with different dating guides."  But Lauren does find some success with different methods, and in turn the guides give her some insights into herself and the guys she dates.  But I sure did feel bad for that first guy!

BHG

Shackleton: Antarctic Odyssey

Shackleton: Antarctic Odyssey
By Nick Bertozzi
First Second, 2014. 125 pages

In 1914, polar explorer Ernest Shackleton and company set out to be the first expedition to successfully cross the Antarctic continent. Fate had other plans for these intrepid explorers, however, as their ship was trapped in sea ice before the expedition ever made land. Thus began the harrowing journey back to safety and civilization that has been immortalized as a journey of fortitude, exemplary leadership, and a test of the limits of human endurance.

The story of Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton is one of my all-time favorite things to read about. Naturally, when I saw a graphic novel about the Endurance’s voyage, I had to check it out. This is a fantastic addition to Shackleton literature, especially for anyone new to this story. There is an impressive amount of detail in the illustrations of each crew member, and Nick Bertozzi does an excellent job of capturing the mood of the story through with dialogue and captures instead of a narration. Shackleton is truly inspiring as a leader and the morale and comradery exhibited among the members of this expedition is incredible.

 ALL

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The Traitor's Kiss

The Traitor's Kiss 
by Erin Beaty
Macmillan Publishing Group, LLC, 2017. 344 pgs. Young Adult Fiction

Sage Fowler is an orphan in her uncle’s house when one day she goes into his office and he tells her she is going to the matchmakers in order to be matched. Sage does not want to spend the rest of her days married to an aristocrat. She horribly botches the interview with the matchmaker and ends up having to go and apologize so as not to ruin her cousins chances of being matched with a suitable partner. When she does so she is hired as an apprentice matchmaker to help manage all the candidates for a matchmaking event that is held once every five years. Along the journey she becomes a spy for the army escorting their troop of girls to the nation’s capital.

It has been a long time since I have stayed up until five o’clock in the morning to finish a book. I loved the two main characters of the book, Sage and Ash were so engaging in how they went about finding the information on the various players in the schemes to upset the royal family from their position of power.

MH