Prepublication Reviews and Expertly Selected Title Lists

Blue Labyrinth by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Blue LabyrinthSpecial Agent Pendergast returns along with D’Agosta, Constance, and Margo Green in this thrilling, fast paced novel.

When Alban, one of Pendergast’s twin sons, shows up on his front porch dead, Pendergast is left wondering who killed his son and what message they are trying to send to him. Clues lead him to an abandoned mine where a confrontation with a stranger leads to Pendergast being poisoned with a 100 year old elixir. As Pendergast grows sick and weak, D’Agosta, Constance, and Margo must find an antidote to save his life without losing their own in the process.

Preston & Child never disappoint. If you have not read any of their books before I highly recommend that you get started!

- Tina

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Holiday Fun for Kids and Teens

It’s almost that time of year, the holiday season!  There are so many reasons to celebrate!  We have a festive array of titles to enhance your children’s and teen holiday collections.  Add new titles on Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Diwali, Kwanzaa, and the New Year.  There are informational titles as well as fun picture books featuring favorite characters like Curious George and Dora, as well as craft and drawing books.  It’s never too early to do your holiday shopping…for books!     View the entire list here. Read more…

Thomas Paine by Albert Marrin

Thomas PaineI am by no means a nonfiction, historical, or biographical fan.  I’m ashamed to say that I’ve heard the name Thomas Paine but if asked who he was, I wouldn’t have a clue.  Now would be a good chance to read up on my history.

Prior to and during the American Revolution, Paine is one of the most important men behind the successful revolt of the American colonies and the subsequent formation of the United State of America.  Paine wrote for the common people and grabbed their attention by their emotions and intelligence.

Readers will also learn about the feud between Edmund Burke and Paine and the significance of their conflicting views.

Little fun facts keep readers in the mix and had me stop several times and say, “huh, that’s handy information to know”, for instance, where the phrase “reading them the riot act” came from.

This book is a great learning tool for young adults and for adults that could use a refresher course on an influential man or as he was dubbed, The Father of the American Revolution.

- Amanda

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Autumn Falls by Bella Thorne

Autumn FallsAutumn Falls is about a girl and her family starting their life over after the sudden and devastating loss of her father.  She starts a new school with the hope of blending in and just getting by.  This unfortunately does not happen, however, as she is the target of bullying by the popular girls and struggles to fit in.

Along the way she becomes friends with people that accept her for who she is. They help her realize that even though life is tough sometimes, you can still have fun along the way. She learns to get along and to rise above the petty drama caused by her peers. Eventually she discovers that people will like her for exactly who she is.

This book is a very quick read that holds your attention and keeps you guessing. Autumn is a very likeable character and her story is going to be very relatable for teen girls that are struggling for acceptance.

- Renee

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Plot Perfect by Paula Munier

Plot PerfectPlot a specific path as you write your novel with examples, exercises, and insight that illuminates the three-act structure and how it can help you craft the story you need to tell. Checklists help you plan plots and subplots, as well as plan each individual act of your story.

While the examples from works of fiction and movies become a bit difficult to wade through, simply due to sheer volume, quotations from authors both classic and contemporary help inspire aspiring writers. The first six chapters cover areas with which many writers are already familiar, such as the inciting incident and introducing the story world. After a chapter-long case study of The Maltese Falcon and its plot points, subsequent chapters dive into pacing, themes, how to raise the stakes, and making sure each scene speaks to the theme in some deliberate way.

This is an ideal selection for “outline people” or “non-outline people” who are seeking a bit more structure while writing their novels. While I still prefer James Scott Bell’s Plot and Structure, Plot Perfect provides significant detail and gave me a new way of looking at my next project.

- Travis

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Running Out of Night by Sharon Lovejoy

Running out of NightThis book is about the daily struggle for survival for a nameless girl living in the south.  Her mother died giving birth to her and her father never bothered to name her. Every day was a combination of beatings and isolation until one day a runaway slave girl named Zenobia, stumbles upon the nameless girl and asks for her help.

The nameless girl is hesitant to help Zenobia as she knows the punishment would be severe if she were caught.  She doesn’t have the heart to hand the runaway over to be killed so she decides to help hide her.  After a particularly brutal beating from one of her brothers, the nameless girl decided to run away with Zenobia.  On their flight to freedom, Zenobia gives the nameless girl the name Lark because of her ability to mimic the bird’s song. This book describes their journey to freedom and discovery of the Underground Railroad.

This is a heartfelt story about friendship and love. I couldn’t put this book down, I would recommend it to anyone.

- Renee

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Rolling Stone’s Best Non-Superhero Graphic Novels

Rolling Stone has released their list of the best non-superhero graphic novels.  The titles included may not feature characters like Superman or Batman, but they are excellent graphic novels that are worthy of being included in your library collection.  There are titles by Art Spiegelman, Will Eisner, Herge, and Marjane Satrapi, just to name a few.  Make sure you check out the complete list!  View the entire list here.

SagaSaga, Vol. 1 by Brian K. VaughanIn the midst of a never-ending galactic war, two soldiers who should be fighting against each other, fall in love and risk everything to be together.  They try to build a new life and begin a family in a dangerous old universe.  Learn more and order here.
MausMaus: A Survivor’s Tale, Vol. 1. My Father Bleeds History by Art SpiegelmanThis is the first of two volumes that tell the powerful story of a Holocaust survivor from the point of view of his son, a cartoonist.  Spiegelman uses anthropomorphic animals to portray the characters as he tells about his parent’s experiences as Jews in wartime Poland.  Learn more and order here.
PersepolisPersepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane SatrapiThis is the unforgettable autobiography of Marjane Satrapi’s life as she grew up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. You witness the history of Iran as seen from a child’s perspective, including events such as the overthrow of the Shah’s regime, the victory of the Islamic Revolution, and the devastating effects of the war with Iraq. It’s not only the story of Marjane’s daily life in Iran but also her extraordinary family. Learn more and order here.
Hark!Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton Kate Beaton showcases her perfectly timed humor and absurdness in this collection of favorite and previously unpublished stories.  Her comic strips are about famous authors, their characters, political and historical figures, taking readers on a jovial journey through history and literature.  Learn more and order here.

Like Water on Stone by Dana Walrath

Like Water on StoneThis book sounded like a good story to read, but when I picked it up and looked inside I was terrified to even start reading it.  Honestly, it looked like a book of poetry. I thought how can I write about a book of poetry?  Finally, I became brave enough to start reading and what a surprise I was in for.

Although this is a fictional story of historical events it is more importantly a story based on the author’s own family.

The story begins with a large family in Western Armenia.  Six children in all, they are Armenian Christians, while their neighbors are Turks and Kurds.  When war breaks out, the father thinks that they all will be safe as the village is full of their friends. The only person he has known to leave the area is his wife’s brother, who moved to America.  His youngest son, Shahen, begs his father almost daily to go live with his uncle. While Shahen’s twin sister, Sosi, wants nothing more than to live in the village her whole life.  But as war draws closer to the family, it is finally decided that the three youngest children must escape to Aleppo.

The children escape just in time and must race for their lives over mountains and through the desert to safety.  All this time on the run they have a guardian.  An eagle, Ardzir, who lost his mate and hatchlings to the drum caps.  Will the children make it safely to their uncle’s home?

For a book that I didn’t want to pick up, it quickly became a book I could hardly set down. It’s an incredible story of survival and one everyone should read.

- Ellen

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Jesus Jackson by James Ryan Daley

Jesus Jackson cover.inddWhat better placement for an adolescent, self-proclaimed atheist than to start at a new Catholic High School? This story is a parallel of two battles for young Jonathan Stiles.   His search to uncover the mystery of his older brother’s death leads him down a path that runs into love, friendships, enemies and suspects.   Jonathan’s internal battle to find faith in something is embodied by his interactions with the eccentric character, Jesus Jackson.   This story was excellently written in the precise tone of a teenage boy.   Jonathan’s view of the world was so perfectly in sync with the angst of adolescence and the struggle to find a place in the world and something to believe in.  Jesus Jackson is able to perform his miracle and help Jonathan grasp the concept of faith.  This revelation turns Jonathan’s attitudes toward all religion in a new direction that allows him to begin accepting the loss of his brother and the possibility of something bigger in the universe.

- Jolie

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Crooked River by Valerie Geary

Crooked RiverWhen Sam and Ollie’s mother dies, they are sent to live in a teepee in a meadow with their father, Bear.

Shortly after arriving they discover a murdered woman floating in the river. They decide not to tell the authorities for fear that the police will suspect their father.  Bear begins to display some suspicious behavior and has lied about his whereabouts the night the woman was killed. Even though Bear is arrested for the murder, Sam knows he is innocent.

Meanwhile, her sister, Ollie, is still traumatized from their mother’s death and has not spoken for 5 weeks. Nobody knows that she sees ghosts and that they are haunting her. These spirits are telling her that she and Sam are in danger because the real killer is still out there and getting closer and closer.

This is Valerie Geary’s first novel and I am looking forward to her future books.

- Tina

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