Monday, December 21, 2015

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

When I brought this book home, a teenager immediately noticed it.  The distinctive cover art and black edged pages make the book stand out.  I gave it to him to read since technically, it is a YA book, and I figured he could tell me if it was any good.  Then he passed it on to his sister.  They both liked it, so I thought it must be worth reading!  

A group of six teenagers plot to break a prisoner out of an impossible jail.  There is Kaz, the ruthless leader who whispers rumors to make sure that no one really knows him.  Inej is an acrobat turned spy.  A sharpshooter with too much nervous energy and a gambling problem is called Jesper.  Nina is from a country of people with special powers, considered witches by some.  Matthias is a soldier who will betray his country.  Wylan is the youngest, and the son of a wealthy merchant who is learning explosives.  These six must work together to earn a huge amount of money.  They take turns narrating the chapters, picking up where the last one left off.  You get to know each one bit by bit.  It’s a gritty and sometimes brutal book of teens living in a hardscrabble world.

Reviewed by Fiona Swift
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Monday, December 7, 2015

Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

A stand-up comedian probably wouldn’t be your first choice to write a study on the trials of dating in the new millennium, but Aziz Ansari (best known for his role on Parks and Recreation) joined forces with sociology professor Eric Klinenberg for this one-of-a-kind guide to dating, mating, cheating, and etiquette. The result is a book full of solid research and snarky commentary.

Ansari and Klinenberg found out that there is a generational difference of opinion on whether it’s okay to break up with someone via text message, but romance is changing in other ways, too. Years ago, young people didn’t spend a decade or more searching for a soul mate when they could just settle down in a companionable marriage with the boy or girl next door. Ansari notes that his own parents had an arranged marriage that has lasted happily for more than 35 years, but maybe because online dating has introduced him to so many women he would have never made contact with before, making a decision to settle down forever with one person is harder than ever.

 Modern Romance is funny, irreverent, and full of insight about love in the modern world.

Reviewed by Lynn Heitkamp

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Monday, November 23, 2015

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

In a Dark, Dark Wood is a fast-paced psychological thriller that takes place in a creepy setting with creepy characters. Out of touch for years, Nora gets invited to her former best friend, Clare’s, hen party (bachelorette party for us Americans). The party, held in a glass house in the middle of a very dark, dark wood begins to take twists and turns that are even colder and darker than the setting. Waking up in the hospital, Nora begins to piece together what happened in the glass house. She must remember the final details in order to save herself and others. Together, Nora, Clare, Flo, Nina, Tom, and Melanie, make up an interesting cast of characters for sure, but is one a murderer?
Reviewed by Jennifer Harden

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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Missing Kennedy by Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoff

I have always been captivated by the Kennedy’s lives and enjoy reading about them.  Knowing what happened to Rosemary has saddened me at times and I wondered what her life would have been like had she not had a lobotomy.  This book is a two-fold story.  It takes you through Rosemary’s life both before and after her operation and it also walks you through the life of Sister Paulus, Rosemary’s caregiver.  I have always thought Joe Kennedy was a hard man, forbidding his family from seeing Rosemary, but I have softened that view a bit now.   

The stigma with mental illness was horrendous in the early part of the 20th century and it is scary to think of all the misdiagnosis and terrible treatment many victims endured.   I really admire that Eunice, Rosemary’s sister, founded the Special Olympics and turned her family’s tragedy into something positive for others.     

Reading about Sister Paulus was intriguing as well.  To have such conviction in knowing what path she wanted her life to take and then taking it is quite admirable.  This was a very interesting read and I recommend it to anyone who is fascinated by other people’s stories.    

Reviewed by Brenda Rodammer

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