“All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr – “Doerr’s magnificently drawn story seems at once spacious and tightly composed. It rests, historically, during the occupation of France during WWII, but brief chapters told in alternating voices give the overall–and long–narrative a swift movement through time and events. We have two main characters, each one on opposite sides in the conflagration that is destroying Europe. Marie-Louise is a sightless girl who lived with her father in Paris before the occupation; he was a master locksmith for the Museum of Natural History. When German forces necessitate abandonment of the city, Marie-Louise’s father, taking with him the museum’s greatest treasure, removes himself and his daughter and eventually arrives at his uncle’s house in the coastal city of Saint-Malo. Young German soldier Werner is sent to Saint-Malo to track Resistance activity there, and eventually, and inevitably, Marie-Louise’s and Werner’s paths cross. It is through their individual and intertwined tales that Doerr masterfully and knowledgeably re-creates the deprived civilian conditions of war-torn France and the strictly controlled lives of the military occupiers.” — Hooper, Brad. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2014.
“Blossom Street Brides” by Debbie Macomber – “Macomber continues her long-running knitting series set on Blossom Street with Lauren Elliott learning that her younger, married sister is pregnant. Lauren determines that she will never be a mother if she stays with her long-term boyfriend. After seeing a baby blanket in the window of A Good Yarn, Lauren decides to knit one for her sister’s baby, and there she meets the recently married Bethanne, whose new husband, Max, who lives in California, shows up with attractive bad boy Rooster, the antithesis of Lauren’s ex-boyfriend. Meanwhile, Casey, the adopted teen daughter of Lydia, the proprietor of A Good Yarn, is experiencing horrible nightmares, while her grandmother is losing her mind to dementia. The yarn store is barely meeting its expenses when, suddenly, baskets of knitting with A Good Yarn labels start turning up around town with an invitation to help knit a scarf for charity. Macomber’s nondenominational-inspirational women’s novel, with its large cast of characters will resonate with fans of the popular series but may leave new readers with the feeling of being strangers at the party.” –Tixier Herald, Diana. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2014.
“The Eye of the Day” by Dennison Smith – “When a brutal explosion in a cottage town in Vermont brings together Amos, a disfigured handyman, and Aubrey, the cosseted son of a wealthy New England family, neither has any idea this event will shape them forever. As their lives touch again over the years, these unlikely friends forge a bond that survives war and peace, love and loss.” — inside front cover
“Hell Bent for Leather” by Julie Ann Walker – “When bar owner Delilah Fairchild’s Uncle Theo disappears, she turns to the Black Knights, a Chicago Special Ops group working undercover as motorcycle aficionados, for help, even though this means being in close proximity to Bryan “Mac” McMillan. She’s had a gigantic crush on Mac for the past four years, while he’s pretended to ignore her. Thanks to Mac’s father’s grief over being abandoned by his wife and subsequent bankruptcy due to his search for her, Mac has sworn off sexy, glitzy women he thinks are like her. His aversion gives new meaning to commitment phobia, yet he is helplessly drawn to Delilah. Walker’s plot twists involving how the two find her uncle and then rescue Delilah, who is also taken, fight over jurisdiction with the CIA, and finally get together makes for one of the funniest military romances ever written and an instant favorite in Walker’s already excellent Black Knight series. Action-packed with hilarious dialogue, terrorists, testosterone-laden protagonists, a brave dog, and very, very good sex scenes, Hell for Leather is a wonderful read.” Chelton, Mary K., AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2014.
“The Kill Switch” by James Rollins and Grant Blackwood – “A Russian scientist with a weapon that could wreak havoc upon the world; a chilling historical mystery; a breakneck race against time–the usual kinds of ingredients, in other words, for one of Rollins’ Sigma Force novels. But this one’s a bit different: it stars former Army Ranger Tucker Wayne and his working dog, Kane (introduced in Bloodline, 2012), and it spends more time than usual exploring the relationships of its lead characters. Rollins, who was a practicing veterinarian before turning to full-time writing, makes Kane, a Belgian Malinois (they look a lot like German shepherds), a fully participating character in the story, similar to the way Jonathan Maberry makes Ghost a character in the Joe Ledger novels. Coauthor Blackwood is best known for the three Fargo novels he wrote with Clive Cussler, but his solo trilogy featuring covert op Briggs Tanner, published 2001-03, gives him solid grounding for this novel. Fans of the Sigma Force series will definitely enjoy this one, and readers who have occasionally wished Rollins would slow down a bit and spend some time with his characters will get their wish.” — Pitt, David. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2014.
“Radiance of Tomorrow: A Novel” by Ishmael Beah – “In his best-selling A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier (2007), Beah wrote of his traumatic experience as victim and perpetrator in Sierra Leone’s civil war. Now he works with Human Rights Watch and UNICEF in New York, and in this searing first novel, he tells of a young immigrant returning with his family to his native village seven years after the recent civil war. He finds both hope and horror, the latter driven by the overwhelming internal corruption, the former by the resilience of the people he encounters. He sees skulls and chopped hands, the remains of massacre. But there is the wonder of clean drinking water. A foreign company’s diamond mining, supported by the government, is leaving the village people displaced, houses shattered, the air thick with pollution, ancient burial grounds destroyed. A parent must see her child go to bed hungry, night after night. How much will people do for jobs to feed their families? The power of the story is in the close-up, heartbreaking detail of the struggle for survival, the cruelty, and also the kindness.” — Rochman, Hazel. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2013.
“Save the Date” by Mary Kay Andrews – “The latest charming summer romance from best-selling Andrews (Ladies’ Night, 2013) arrives just in time for wedding and beach-reading season. Savannah florist Cara Kryzik is making a name for herself designing society weddings, and her latest event, planning an enormous country wedding between two important southern families, will allow her to pay back the loan her father gave her. Divorced not long ago, she may be ready to finally reopen her heart, and by some sweet chance, local heartthrob Jack Finnerty keeps popping up at her weddings. Though Andrews does rely on a few contemporary-romance conventions–a protagonist with a fun, feminine job; a down-to-earth hero from a well-connected family; and a misunderstanding that nearly keeps them apart–her lively and expansive variations on tried-and-trusted tropes are fresh and pleasing. Readers will cheer Cara on as she deals with a runaway bride and a smarmy and cutthroat competing florist, and all will swoon over her steamy scenes with Jack, right up to the wholly satisfying happy ending.” — Walker, Aleksandra. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2014.
“Shadow Spell” by Nora Roberts – “Cabhan is coming. The latest charming summer romance from best-selling Andrews (Ladies’ Night, 2013) arrives just in time for wedding and beach-reading season. Savannah florist Cara Kryzik is making a name for herself designing society weddings, and her latest event, planning an enormous country wedding between two important southern families, will allow her to pay back the loan her father gave her. Divorced not long ago, she may be ready to finally reopen her heart, and by some sweet chance, local heartthrob Jack Finnerty keeps popping up at her weddings. Though Andrews does rely on a few contemporary-romance conventions–a protagonist with a fun, feminine job; a down-to-earth hero from a well-connected family; and a misunderstanding that nearly keeps them apart–her lively and expansive variations on tried-and-trusted tropes are fresh and pleasing. Readers will cheer Cara on as she deals with a runaway bride and a smarmy and cutthroat competing florist, and all will swoon over her steamy scenes with Jack, right up to the wholly satisfying happy ending.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The latest from perennial blockbuster novelist Andrews launches with a 250,000 print run and a high tide of national promotions in print and on all other media platforms. Walker, Aleksandra. 400p. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2014.Despite the best efforts of Connor O’Dwyer and his circle of family and friends, the sorcerer will not stop until he has his revenge against the descendants of dark witch Sorcha. Since Connor, his sister Branna, and their cousin, Iona Sheehan, are the latest group of three to have inherited Sorcha’s powers, they are all number one on Cabhan’s hit list. Everyone’s safety depends on working together to defeat Cabhan, but much to his surprise, Connor finds himself distracted by Meara Quinn. The two have always enjoyed a terrific working relationship, until an unexpected kiss reveals the true passion they feel for each other. Pursuing a romantic relationship with Meara, however, is a risk. Not only could Connor lose her friendship; getting closer to Meara could make her an easy target for Cabhan. Roberts has a real flair for seamlessly melding day-to-day domestic details and the supernatural, and the second in her Cousins O’Dwyer trilogy not only delivers a satisfying love story but also effectively sets things up for the coming final confrontation with Cabhan.” — Charles, John. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2014
“The Son” by Philip Meyer – “Spanning nearly two hundred years, The Son is the story of our founding mythology, of the men and women who tore a country from the wilderness and paid in blood by subsequent generations. An epic in the tradition of Faulkner and Melville, this is the work of a writer at the height of his power.” — Kevin Powers
“Wolf” by Mo Hayder – “In Hayder’s best Jack Caffery thriller yet, a worn-out Jack is feeling all the years he has put into police service and his never-ending quest to find out what happened to his long-lost brother. The novel opens with a young girl finding a stray dog with a ripped note tucked into its collar that states, “Help us.” A vagrant known as the Walking Man witnesses this and promises the young girl that he will help the dog. Never one to give out information willingly, the Walking Man surprisingly contacts Jack–offering up a trade: find out who needs help and, in return, the Walking Man will give Jack some closure about his brother. This deal with the devil sets off a home invasion novel unlike no other. The Anchor-Ferrers, a wealthy family with secrets and issues of their own, are being held hostage in their estate. Will Jack find them in time? And why was this family chosen in the first place? VERDICT Dark and twisty, this gripping crime novel by an Edgar Award winner is an outstanding read, whether Jack is a new character to the reader or an old friend. For fans of John Connolly or Robert Crais.” — Marianne Fitzgerald, Severna Park H.S., MD. LIBRARY JOURNAL,
“The Woman Who Lost Her Soul” by Bob Shacochis – “A skilled journalist …Shacochis thinks big, and his new novel … is truly magisterial. It opens with humanitarian lawyer Tom Harrington investigating the death of Jackie Scott, a feisty photojournalist who once whipped him around in Haiti. But Harrington turns out to be a relatively minor player in large-scale story dating back to the end of World War II, as the beheading of young Stjepan Kovacevic’s Iron Cross father signals coming changes in the Balkans and the world at large. Thus are sown the seeds of Stjepan’s hatred for all things communist, Muslim, and, finally, not gloriously righteous Christian West. Flash forward, and Stjepan is U.S. diplomat Steve Chambers, training the teenage daughter he covets to shift personas in the act of serving her country. Eventually, she’s the woman who loses her soul, as “America…at war behind the drapery of shadows and secrets” has lost its soul. Throughout, we see how policy is shaped by both the historical and the blindingly personal. VERDICT Densely detailed yet immensely readable, this eye-opener (which could have been titled “Why We Are in the Middle East”) is essential reading.”–Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal. 640p. LIBRARY JOURNAL, c2013.
“Field of Prey: A Novel” by John Sandford – “In bestseller Sandford’s suspenseful 24th Lucas Davenport novel …, an amorous couple’s chance discovery of a body in an abandoned cistern near Red Wing, Minn., becomes a major investigation when authorities begin excavating and the body count reaches 17 and threatens to go higher. With Bob Shaffer of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension heading the investigation, and Davenport and Goodhue County deputy Catrin Mattsson assisting, they begin looking for a serial killer/rapist who’s been operating for at least 10 years in the cluster of small towns near the cistern. When a lead investigator is killed and another targeted, the pressure builds. Meanwhile, a pair of sadists plot deadly and taunting actions to confuse the investigators, and Davenport searches desperately for a clue that will help narrow the search to manageable numbers. As always, Sandford has tricks to play to confound readers before the tension rises and leads to a violent and surprising conclusion.” — Agent: Esther Newberg, ICM. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2014.
“The Son” by Jo Nesbo – “On the surface, Nesbo’s gripping new stand-alone might seem like another installment of the Harry Hole series but featuring a new cast of characters. A serial killer is at work in Oslo, and a maverick cop with his share of personal demons is on his trail. But beneath that surface, there is a complex psychological thriller churning its way into the reader’s nightmares. Sonny Lofthus is in prison for crimes he didn’t commit but for which he has agreed to take the fall–in exchange for an unending supply of heroin. The drugs are Sonny’s way of dealing with the knowledge that his father, an apparent suicide, was a dirty cop. As the novel begins, however, Sonny has new information about his father’s death and has engineered a daring escape from prison. His revenge-fueled plan is to kill those responsible for the crimes he was convicted of by re-creating the murders with the real killers now the victims. The more we learn about Sonny, the more we root for him to evade capture, either by the police or by the crime lord who wants him dead. Juggling point of view between Sonny, Simon Kefas (the cop chasing him), and the various corrupt officials who risk exposure the longer Sonny is free, Nesbo thwarts our every attempt to draw conclusions about both what happened in the past and who is the least guilty among the principals. There is an element of the classic film noir Breathless at work here but with more characters of varying shades of gray whose fates hinge on numerous moving parts. A terrific thriller but also a tragic, very moving story of intertwined characters swerving desperately to avoid the dead ends in their paths.” — Ott, Bill. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2014.
“Standing in Another Man’s Grave” by Ian Rankin – “Rankin’s iconic Edinburgh copper, John Rebus, …is now a civilian reviewing old police files in this satisfying crime thriller…. Rebus butts heads with Fox, an investigator in Complaints, who loathes “old style” cops like Rebus who may have bent the rules to get results. When Nina Hazlitt shows up at Rebus’s office, she tells him about her missing daughter, Sally, who disappeared on the A9 roadway in 1999. Though Rebus is initially skeptical, Hazlitt’s persistence slowly pays off. Rebus starts taking seriously her theories that the subsequent disappearances of other young women along the A9 are connected, and a task force is formed, including Det. Insp. Siobhan Clarke, Rebus’s protegee. The police comb through old case files, and Rebus logs many a mile in his battered Saab, driving the length of the A9 through Scotland, on the hunt for the killer. Rankin’s ear for dialogue and sense of place is as keen as ever, complementing his twisted plot. Rebus fans will be pleased to find him as cantankerous as ever, smoking and drinking as if time in the policing world has stood still.” — PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2013.
“Stone Cold” by C. J. Box – “…Joe Pickett is back at his job as game warden with a pay increase, retention of his seniority, and the title of “special liaison to the executive branch.” Joe is once again working on a special assignment for Wyoming governor Rulon, who has an unhappy relationship with the federal government. To keep the Feds from running roughshod over his state and its citizens, Rulon sends Joe to Medicine Wheel County to investigate quietly a mysterious man named Wolfgang Templeton who might be operating an elite murder-for-hire operation. What Joe uncovers is a tangled puzzle of philanthropy, murder, and corrupt county and state officials, mixed together with the reappearance of his old friend Nate Romanowski and Joe’s mother-in-law, Missy Vankueran. Never one to hesitate, Joe jumps right into the fray. At the same time Joe’s mind is also with daughter Sheridan’s challenges at the university and foster daughter April’s obsession with a rodeo star. VERDICT …Nonstop action, a twisty plot, and great characters make his latest a must-read for fans of this series.” — Patricia Ann Owens, LIBRARY JOURNAL, c2014.
“Unlucky 13” by James Patterson – “San Francisco Detective Lindsay Boxer is loving her life as a new mother. …Then the FBI sends Lindsay a photo of a killer from her past, and her happy world is shattered. The picture captures a beautiful woman at a stoplight. But all Lindsay sees is the psychopath behind those seductive eyes: Mackie Morales, the most deranged and dangerous mind the Women’s Murder Club has ever encountered. …In this pulse-racing, emotionally charged novel by James Patterson, the Women’s Murder Club must find a killer–before she finds them first.” — Amazon.com
“Hard Choices” by Hilary Rodham Clinton – “A subtle, finely calibrated work….Hard Choices is a statesmanlike document…with succinct and often shrewd appraisals of the complex web of political, economic and historical forces in play around the world, and the difficulties American leaders face in balancing strategic concerns with ‘core values.’ The tone is calm and measured, with occasional humorous asides, like describing an offer by Vladimir V. Putin, the Russian leader, to take Bill Clinton along on a polar-bear tagging expedition.”(Michiko Kakutani The New York Times)
“Karl Marx: A Nineteenth-Century Life” by Jonathan Sperber – “Brilliant, original, and beautifully written, Jonathan Sperber’s biography of Marx dazzles. Neither a prophet nor a purveyor of a political system gone awry, Marx emerges in these pages as a man struggling, personally and intellectually, with the profound issues of his own time. With insight and erudition, Sperber weaves Marx’s life and time seamlessly together, and gives us the first deeply researched, engaging biography of Marx in more than three decades” — (Helmut Smith, author of The Butcher’s Tale: Murder and Anti-Semitism in a German Town)
“Capital in the Twenty-First Century” by Thomas Piketty – “The book aims to revolutionize the way people think about the economic history of the past two centuries. It may well manage the feat…It is, first and foremost, a very detailed look at 200 years’ worth of data on the distribution of income and wealth across the rich world (with some figures for large emerging markets also included). This mountain of data allows Piketty to tell a simple and compelling story…The database on which the book is built is formidable, and it is difficult to dispute his call for a new perspective on the modern economic era, whether or not one agrees with his policy recommendations… We are all used to sneering at communism because of its manifest failure to deliver the sustained rates of growth managed by market economies. But Marx’s original critique of capitalism was not that it made for lousy growth rates. It was that a rising concentration of wealth couldn’t be sustained politically. Ultimately, those of us who would like to preserve the market system need to grapple with that sort of dynamic, in the context of the worrying numbers on inequality that Piketty presents.” (The Economist 2014-01-09)
“Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety” by Eric Schlosser – ” Nuclear bombs must be handled with the proper care, yet that is not always the case. Mentioning harrowing mishaps in the history of the American atomic arsenal, Schlosser singles out one for detailed dramatization, the explosion in 1980 of a Titan II missile. Some airmen were killed and injured, but since the warhead didn’t detonate, the safety system appeared to have worked. Color Schlosser skeptical, for, as he recounts this accident, which began with a mundane incident–a dropped tool that punctured the missile–he delves into nuclear weapon designs. Those are influenced by the requirement that the bomb must always detonate when desired and never when not. Citing experts in the technology of nuclear weaponry who have pondered the “never” part of the requirement, Schlosser highlights their worry about an accidental nuclear explosion. Underscored by cases of dropped, burned, and lost bombs, the problem of designing a safe but reliable bomb persists (see also The Bomb, 2009, by weapons engineer Stephen Younger). Well researched, reported, and written, this contribution to the nuclear-weapons literature demonstrates the versatility of Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation (2001).” –Taylor, Gilbert. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2013.
“No Place to Hide” by Glenn Greenwald – “Journalist and former constitutional lawyer Greenwald (With Liberty and Justice for Some) examines the impact of the revelations in the National Security Agency (NSA) documents leaked to him by Edward Snowden. It’s a fascinating read as Greenwald, a longtime writer on issues of national security and Guardian columnist at the time, describes his interactions with the whistle-blower and provides an erudite, complete time line of the events pre- and postpublication of the classified information. Greenwald dismisses the “collect it all” policy of the NSA, maintaining that its overarching surveillance powers–routinely collecting and quantifying data on billions of communications worldwide–don’t prevent acts of terror. Drawing on political theory and psychology, Greenwald likewise explains that the argument that law-abiding citizens aren’t affected is fundamentally flawed, because even the simple threat of universal surveillance impacts human behavior. He is scathing in his analysis of the “establishment media” (Washington Post, New York Times, etc.), both for what he views as deference to the U.S. government on matters of publication and their coverage of the leak, including the question of whether he himself is a journalist–or merely a “blogger” or “activist”–afforded constitutional press protection. In his analysis, the author breaks down the dense NSA subject matter and uses excerpts and slides from the documents to illustrate his points, making this work readable for even those unfamiliar with the technical concepts. VERDICT Greenwald’s delineation of the NSA’s actions, as well as his arguments for the right of privacy and a robust adversarial press, makes this book a must-read.” — Amanda Mastrull, Library Journal. LIBRARY JOURNAL, c2014.
ADULT AUDIO BOOK
“The Tempest” by William Shakespeare
“The Best Years of our Lives”
“Breakfast at Tiffany’s”
“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“The Pirate Fairy”
“Searching for SugarMan”
“Some Like it Hot”
“Live at the Village Vanguard” with Marc Ribot
“Clip-Clop” by Nicola Smee
“Eating the Rainbow” by Star Bright Books
“Hug” by Jez Alborough
” A Bad Case of Stripes” by David Shannon
“Alice the Fairy” by David Shannon
The Baby BeeBee Bird” by Diane Redfield Massie
“Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas” by Lynne Cox
“E-I-E-I-O How Old MacDonald Got His Farm (with a Little Help from a Hen)” by Judy Sierra
“How to Lose a Lemur” by Frann Preston-Gannon
“I Went Walking” by Sue Williams
“Meet the Parents” by Peter Bently
“Lola at the Library” by Anna McQuinn
“Little Owl’s Night” by Divya Srinaviasan
“One Tiny Turtle” by Nicola Davies
“Otis and the Puppy” by Loren Long
“Pinkalicious” by Victoria Kann and Elizabeth Kann
“The Pout-Pout Fish Goes to School” by Deborah Diesen
“This is a Moose” by Richard T. Morris
“Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge” by Mem Fox
JUVENILE AUDIO BOOK
“The Hero’s Guide to Being an Outlaw” by Christopher Healy
“The Boy Problem (Notes and Predictions by Tabitha Reddy)” by Kami Kinard – “Grades 4-8. Full of asides about classmates and the kind of detailed gossip only 11 to 13-year-olds can truly follow, this giddy, giggly book reads like a diary and is aimed at tween girls who like their literature frothy. Tabbi, short for Tabitha, is a middle-school student looking for the right guy, a crush who will elevate her status and help her put aside the feeling that she is just a third wheel when she hangs out with her bestie Kara and Kara’s boyfriend, Chip. But how is she going to find the guy of her dreams? Tabbi is sure that everything, from the cheese that slid off her pizza and formed the shape of a male face (well, kind of) to a Magic 8 Ball, will predict her future. Stick-figure drawings, charts, and lists break up the text and give Tabbi’s story a Diary of a Wimpy Kid vibe. When a fund-raiser featuring cupcakes leads Tabbi to a happy ending, those who love romance will celebrate.” — Cruze, Karen. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2014.
“The Great Trouble: A Mystery of London, the Blue Death, and a Boy Called Eel” by Deborah Hopkinson – “This story of the 1854 cholera outbreak in London is told through the eyes of a 13-year-old orphan. Among other jobs, Eel works as an errand boy at the Lion Brewery, cares for Dr. John Snow’s animals, and moonlights as a “mudlark,” scavenging the Thames for scraps of coal and other things to sell. Eel struggles to survive as he is falsely accused of stealing by his boss at the brewery, tries to stay clear of his evil stepfather, and watches his neighbors fall ill and die. In desperation, he turns to the only man he knows who can help: Dr. Snow. Weaving historical personages such as Dr. Snow and the Reverend Henry Whitehead with fictional characters, Hopkinson illuminates a pivotal chapter in the history of public health. Dr. Snow believed that cholera was spread by contaminated water, not by bad air or “miasma,” which was the popular theory at the time. With the help of Eel and his friends, he convinces an emergency committee that the water from the Broad Street pump is responsible and has the handle removed, thereby curtailing the outbreak. Although detailing a dire period in history, Eel tells his story in a matter-of-fact and accessible manner, making his story palatable and entertaining.” — Ragan O’Malley, Saint Ann’s School, Brooklyn, NY. SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL, c2013.
“How to Speak Dragonese” by Cressida Cowell – “Gr 3-5. Chief’s son Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III, his friend Fishlegs, and his cranky dragon, Toothless, get separated from their class during ‘Boarding-An-Enemy-Ship’ practice. The peaceful fishing boat they are supposed to attack turns out to be a prowling Roman galley, crewed by some of the Empire’s least- distinguished legions. The invaders are plotting to provoke war among the Viking factions by kidnapping the heirs of Hiccup’s own Happy Hooligans and the Amazonian Bog-Burglar tribe. Then, while the locals are occupied, the Romans plan to make off with the entire dragon population of the islands. With the help of Bog-Burglar girl warrior Camicazi and the bumblebee-sized dragon Ziggerastica, the boys must find a way to counter the treacherous plan before they all end up facing combat to the death in the local arena. There is a lot of raucous humor and mock-heroic dialogue; ridiculous names add to the fun. The theme of brains over brawn is well defined. Warriors, Roman and Viking alike, are loud-mouthed, bullying braggarts, easy targets for clever, scrawny Hiccup.” — Elaine E. Knight, Lincoln Elementary Schools, IL. CAHNERS PUBLISHING, c2006.
“One Came Home” by Amy Timberlake – “Grades 6-9. To find out what really happened to her purportedly dead sister, sharpshooting 13-year-old Georgie Burkhardt and her sister’s one-time suitor Billy McCabe follow the trail of pigeon hunters and discover far worse going on near Placid, Wisconsin, in 1871. Georgie tells her story in a first-person narrative that rings true to the time and place. She is smart, determined, and not a little blind to the machinations of adults around her, including Billy, who has been sent by Georgie’s storekeeper grandfather to follow her and keep her safe. She does notice that Billy is well made, but this is no love story; it’s a story of acceptance, by Georgie, her family, and her small town. Timberlake weaves in the largest passenger pigeon nesting ever seen in North America, drought and fatal fires along Lake Michigan that year, a currency crisis that spawned counterfeiters, and advice on prairie travel from an actual handbook from the times. Historical fiction and mystery combine to make this a compelling adventure, and an afterword helps disentangle facts from fiction.” — Isaacs, Kathleen. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2012.
“The Outcasts: Brotherband Chronicles, Book 1” — “Gr. 5-9. Set in the Skandia, an alternate, medieval Scandinavia, the opening volume of the Brotherband Chronicles introduces Hal, who has always felt like an outsider but never more so than at the beginning of his warrior training. Two groups of 16-year-olds are chosen first by their leaders, while Hal’s group consists of the eight misfits left over. Selected as their leader, he gradually grows into the role, taking advantage of their individual talents and compensating for their weaknesses. Just as they seem to gain the upper hand after grueling military training and intense competitions on land and at sea, a humiliating setback reminds Hal’s brotherband of the training’s purpose and sends them off to settle a score with a real-world enemy. In this offshoot of the popular Ranger’s Apprentice series, Flanagan sets the stage for new adventures, peoples it with a large cast of well-developed characters, and tells a compelling coming-of-age story. Given the glossary of sailing terms that opens the book and Hal’s pride in the boat he has helped build and design, readers can expect tales on the high seas. In addition, the new series offers a complex, believable world, a rich sense of camaraderie among thoroughly likable characters, and life-or-death challenges leavened with lighter moments.” — Carolyn Phelan. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2011.
“Paperboy” by Vince Vawter – “Grades 6-8. It’s hot in Memphis during the summer of 1959–in all kinds of ways. Things heat up for the book’s 11-year-old narrator when he takes over his pal Rat’s paper route; meeting new people is a horror for the boy because he stutters. He only really feels comfortable with Rat and Mam, the African American maid who takes care of him when his parents are away, which is often. But being the paperboy forces him to engage in the world and to ask for payments from customers, like pretty, hard-drinking Mrs. Worthington and Mr. Spiro, who gives the boy the confidence to voice his questions and then offers answers that–wondrously–elicit more questions. Others intrude on his life as well. In a shocking scene, Ara T, the dangerous, disturbing junk man tries to take something precious from the boy. In some ways, the story is a set piece, albeit a very good one: the well-crafted characters, hot Southern summer, and coming-of-age events are reminiscent of To Kill a Mockingbird. But this has added dimension in the way it brilliantly gets readers inside the head of a boy who stutters. First-time author Vawter has lived this story, so he is able to write movingly about what it’s like to have words exploding in your head with no reasonable exit. This paperboy is a fighter, and his hope fortifies and satisfies in equal measure.” — Cooper, Ilene. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2013.
“P.S. Be Eleven” by Rita Williams-Garcia – “Ages 8-12. Delphine and her sisters return to Brooklyn from visiting their estranged mother, Cecile, a poet who sent them off every day to a camp run by the Black Panthers in Williams-Garcia’s Newbery Honor-winning One Crazy Summer. It wasn’t the California vacation they expected, but the experience rocked their world. Big Ma, their grandmother, is no longer just a stern taskmaster, she’s an oppressor. Delphine, who again narrates, loses interest in magazines like Tiger Beat and Seventeen: “When there’s Afros and black faces on the cover, I’ll buy one,” she tells a storeowner. Reflecting society at large in 1968, change and conflict have the Gaither household in upheaval: Pa has a new girlfriend, Uncle Darnell returns from Vietnam a damaged young man, and the sixth-grade teacher Delphine hoped to get has been replaced by a man from Zambia. Though the plot involves more quotidian events than the first book, the Gaither sisters are an irresistible trio. Williams-Garcia excels at conveying defining moments of American society from their point of view–this is historical fiction that’s as full of heart as it is of heartbreak.” — (June). PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2013.
“Knucklehead: Tall Tales & Mostly True Stories About Growing Up Scieszka” by Jon Scieszka – “Gr. 4-7 In this arch, glib, unapologetically shame-free outing, Scieszka, who grew up as the second of six sons, has written an autobiography about boys, for boys and anyone else interested in baseball, fire, and peeing on stuff. The format of the book is perfectly suited to both casual and reluctant readers. The text is divided into two- to three-page nonsequential chapters and peppered with scrapbook snapshots and comic-book-ad reproductions. The accessibly irreverent language pushes the boundaries of moderation even as it reflects a sort of skewed wholesomeness. But the real testosterone payoff here is in the stories, which range from losing battles with fractious parochial-school nuns to taking turns watching little brothers (wherein the author watched brother number six eat a cigarette butt and charged neighborhood kids to watch him do it again). By themselves, the chapters entertain with abrupt, vulgar fun. Taken together, they offer a look at the makings of one very funny author– and a happy answer to the dreaded autobiography book report.” — Thom Barthelmess. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2008.
“Nelson Mandela: Words and Paintings” by Kadir Nelson – “This picture-book biography matches Mandela’s outsize achievements with large, powerful images, resulting in a presentation that will seize and hold readers’ attention. The front cover features a portrait of Mandela that fills the space. His pleasant but determined expression immediately projects a sense of strength. The title and author move to the back cover so as not to compete with the opening image. A stark graphic design incorporating black, green, yellow, and red, colors from the South African flag, on the title page helps set the stage for the narrative. Nelson’s paintings range from poignant, when Mandela’s mother tells him good-bye as he leaves home for more education at the age of nine, to exuberant, when Mandela and 100 men arrested for protesting apartheid respond by dancing and singing, to inspiring, when people organize rallies demanding his release. When freedom finally comes, “a colorful sea of people” celebrate. Mandela’s heroic struggle might be new to many children today, and Nelson’s dynamic treatment provides enough detail to give a sense of the man and to acknowledge his important place in history.”– Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher’s School, Richmond, VA. SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL, c2013.
“African Animal Alphabet” by Beverly and Dereck Joubert – “This alphabet book features vivid photographs of African animals. Readers will recognize a cheetah, elephant, and lion, but this husband-and-wife naturalist team also highlights unsung species like the tsessebe, the umbrette, and the dung beetle. Even X finds a match: ‘Xenopus bullfrogs like to sit in water that is extra shallow.’ Appended animal facts and a glossary for words like ‘vociferous’ underscore the book’s dual focus on diverse animal characteristics and language development.” — PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2011.
“Chasing Cheetahs: The Race to Save Africa’s Fastest Cats” by Sy Montgomery – “Grades 5-8. The latest entry in the Scientists in the Field series finds award-winning collaborators Montgomery and Bishop visiting a cheetah reclamation preserve in Tanzania for close-up looks at how orphaned or injured animals are rescued, nurtured, and prepared (when possible) for release back into the wild. Along with sharp views of the facility’s experts and student volunteers working with cheetahs and taking general wildlife counts, Bishop provides plenty of stunning cheetah photography–both full-body and head shots–to beautifully complement Montgomery’s detailed descriptions of daily routines, research projects, and medical procedures. The text also extends its coverage of wildlife conservation issues in explanations of how the facility’s passionately dedicated head, Laurie Marker, works to turn local herders from being part of the problem to becoming part of the solution by working to save these beautiful, threatened creatures. This is yet another engaging, well-designed entry into an essential series.” Peters, John. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2014.
“Everything On It” by Shel Silverstein – “Shel Silverstein, beloved author of the acclaimed and bestselling poetry collections Where the Sidewalk Ends, A Light in the Attic, and Falling Up, will have a brand-new book of poetry published by HarperCollins Children’s Books in September 2011. This is only the second original book to be published since Silverstein’s passing in 1999. With more than one hundred and thirty never-before-seen poems and drawings completed by the cherished American artist and selected by his family from his archives, this collection will follow in the tradition and format of his acclaimed poetry classics.” — Amazon.com
“Mr. Lincoln’s High-Tech War: How the North Used the Telegraph, Railroads, Surveillance Balloons, Iron-Clads, High-Powered Weapons, and More to Win the Civil War” by Thomas B. Allen and Roger MacBride Allen – “Gr. 6-10 The prologue to this intriguing book points out that although Lincoln grew up using tools and farm implements that his great-great- great-great-grandfather would have recognized, his own generation saw their world irrevocably changed by technological innovations, and he was the only President ever to be granted a patent (for a device to lift boats over shoals). Well researched and clearly written, the book discusses the course of the Civil War in terms of the development of new technology, from the ironclad and the submarine to the rapid-fire, repeating rifle and the use of railroads to carry troops and supplies. When the telegraph carried news from the front and Lincoln’s orders to his generals, the term ‘commander in chief’ became more than an honorary title for the president. The many illustrations include captioned black-and-white reproductions of period prints, paintings, and photos as well as clearly labeled drawings. Sidebars comment on such topics as the mass production of armaments. A lengthy bibliography, a discussion of online resources, and source notes for quotes are appended. Readers whose knowledge of the Civil War comes from historical novels and battle-by-battle historical accounts will gain a fascinating perspective on why the war progressed as it did and how it was ultimately won.” — Carolyn Phelan. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2008.
“Trees, Leaves and Bark” by Diane L. Burns – “An introduction to the world of insects, caterpillars, and butterflies including identification information, educational activities, and fun facts.Invites young naturalists to spot wildlife. Safety tips are provided and interesting activities are sugested. Color illustrations enhance the presentation.” —-HORN BOOKS (Tracks, Scats and Signs)
“You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You: Very Short Scary Tales to Read Together” by Mary Ann Hoberman – “PreS-Gr. 2. The fourth uproarious poetry picture book in Hoberman and Emberley’s popular You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You series continues the pattern of simple, rhyming, illustrated stories for two voices. This time, though, the stories are not playful, fractured versions of old rhymes and tales; they are new shivery tales to read together. The clear words with gorgeously gruesome, comic-style pictures tell of wild action and monster characters as lurid as they come–ghouls, ogres, zombies, skeletons, phantoms–all of them readers. In one double-page spread, the ghost and the mouse living together in a house are enemies, scared of each other, until they make up and read together. One spread is ‘Trick or Treat,’ and of course, this collection is a must for Halloween sharing. ‘Gory’ rhymes with ‘story.” (Reviewed May 1, 2007). Hazel Rochman. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2007.
“The Young Birder’s Guide to Birds of North America” by Bill Thompson III – “Gr 6 Up–As other guides have appeared in recent years, birders have latched on to their favorites, but none is aimed so directly at the fledgling birder as this one. The 300 species most likely to be encountered in North America are described on a page each (“adult” field guides usually list several related species per spread), accompanied by a color photo of the bird, two if males and females have different plumage. Notes on habitat and what to look for (markings) and listen for (songs, calls) will help birders confirm sightings. The taxonomic arrangement, covering from waterfowl to finches, is similar to many field guides, so it will be easy for novices to graduate from this title to more extensive guides. The list of resources includes organizations, field guides, audio guides, periodicals, and, in a nod to the times, apps. A great title for both school and public libraries.”–Teresa R. Faust, Vermont Department of Libraries, Berlin. SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL, c2012.
“The 5th Wave” by Rick Yancey – “Yancey makes a dramatic 180 from the intellectual horror of his Monstrumologist books to open a gripping SF trilogy about an Earth decimated by an alien invasion. … A rare survivor of the invasion, 16-year-old Cassie, armed with an M16 rifle and her younger brother’s teddy bear, is trying to reunite with her brother and escape the “Silencer” (assassin) trying to kill her. Meanwhile, 17-year-old “Zombie,” an unwitting military recruit, is facing a crisis of conscience. The story’s biggest twists aren’t really surprises; the hints are there for readers to see. Yancey is more interested in examining how these world-shaking revelations affect characters who barely recognize what their lives have become. As in the Monstrum-ologist series, the question of what it means to be human is at the forefront–in the words of cartoonist Walt Kelly, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” –Agent: Brian DeFiore, DeFiore and Co. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2013.
“Far Far Away” by Tom McNeal – “Grades 7-10. So it begins: What follows is the strange and fateful tale of a boy, a girl, and a ghost. Ghostly Jacob Grimm, of the famous Brothers, narrates this tale of Jeremy and Ginger and their near-tragic encounter with town baker Sten Blix, whose long-held grudges figure in the disappearance of several village children. Unappreciated as a youngster, Blix has elevated revenge to a sweet art, and he holds Jeremy, Ginger, and an additional victim, Frank Bailey, in a hidden dungeon under the bakery, while Jacob desperately tries to tell parents and friends of the predicament. If he fails, the three may become grist in the baker’s next batch of Prince Cakes. Reminiscent of Hansel and Gretel and rife with allusions to the Brothers Grimm tales, this is a masterful story of outcasts, the power of faith, and the triumph of good over evil. McNeal’s deft touch extends to the characterizations, where the ritual speech of traditional tales (Listen, if you will) establishes Jacob’s phantasmagoric presence amid the modernist American West. There are moments of horror (as there were in the Brothers Grimm original tales), but they are accomplished through the power of suggestion. Details aplenty about Jacob and his famous sibling make this a fiction connector to both fairy tales and Grimm biographies, too.” –Welch, Cindy. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2013.