Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Gretchen recommends "Winter Study"

Nevada Barr's latest Anna Pigeon mystery takes Anna back to Michigan's Isle Royale National Park. Unlike A Superior Death (2nd in the series) which takes place during the warm summer park season, Winter Study finds Anna in an icy island landscape with a scientific team embattled over the future of the wolf/moose study made famous by real-life researcher Rolf Peterson. The team is confronted with the chilling possibility of an oversize dog/wolf hybrid that is preying on both man and beast. With typical "Annatude" familiar to Barr's readers, Ranger Pigeon plumbs the depths of her fellow islanders' darker sides which lead to her harrowing fight for survival in a beautiful but unforgiving environment. For those interested in a blend of mystery with superb natural history writing, this 14th mystery thriller is an enjoyable escape. Suitable for adults.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Lisa recommends "Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach"

For everyone who loves a little offbeat humor, Scaredy Squirrel is for you. In his new adventure, Scaredy goes to the beach. Unfortunately, there are people there! What's a squirrel to do? In the end Scaredy Squirrel loves the beach so much, he builds his own complete with people (garden gnomes).

This picture book is perfect for anyone who wants a quick story. Adults will love it too!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Erica recommends "The Kommandant's Girl"

The genre is historical romance, sort of. This story takes place in Krakow, Poland, during the Nazi occupation, and those historical circumstances are the driving force behind this first novel. And romance, there's plenty of that. But somehow "historical romance" doesn't capture the heart of this story. For there are also deep friendships and family relationships, questions about morality in the midst of terrible situations, and perhaps most of all, a young woman slowly learning the meaning of responsibility.

Emma has been married only 6 weeks when her beloved husband, a resistance fighter, must flee for his life. Emma, a Jew, escapes the Krakow ghetto to live as a Gentile with her husband's aunt and an orphaned child. Her safety is further jeopardized when she is asked to become the personal assistant to the most powerful Nazi in Krakow. Her friends realize she can steal information to help the resistance, especially if she becomes closer to the Kommandant, but Emma is torn between wanting to help and wanting to protect her life and her marriage vows. Readers gradually come to understand Emma's bravery, reluctance, and inner turmoil as the story and characters develop.

Jenoff's follow-up (not a sequel), "The Diplomat's Wife," is due out May 1.

This story is suitable for teens and adults. There is sex and the violence of war; neither is described in detail.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Jamie recommends "The Autobiography of Henry VIII"

Margaret George weaves history and fiction together into a seamless story about the life of King Henry VIII told from his own perspective. Many people know the story of Henry VIII and his wives, but, by having the narrator of the story be Henry VIII himself, Georges work is set apart from other historical retellings of the infamous tales involving Henry and his many wives. She offers explanations for the behavior of lusty king and gives insight into what must have gone through his mind as he lived. The tome, at 939 pages, is not for one who shies away from detailed historical fiction. However, for those who enjoy it, this story is a wonderful autobiography of the king who changed the face of England forever. Recommended for adults.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Lisa recommends "Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos"

Take a little historical fiction and add a dash of mystery and fantasy and you will have Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos. Theodosia has the unique talent of feeling curses that have been left on really old objects, which she must remove through trial and error. This is a bit of a problem since her parents work at a museum with lots of really old objects. When her mom brings back an Egyptian amulet, she unknowingly unleashes chaos throughout England. It is up to Theodosia to return the amulet to Ancient Egypt and save the day. If you are eagerly awaiting the next Indiana Jones movie or are just looking for something a bit different, this book is for you.

Recommended for grades 5+

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Bethany recommends "The Willoughbys"

"The Willoughbys" by Lois Lowry

What do you get when you have an abandoned baby, an odious nanny, a melancholy millionaire and four orphaned siblings? A good old fashioned orphan story or at least a parody of one. The four Willoughby children are left with a nanny while their parents travel the world. The parents want to be rid of their children and the children wish to be orphans. Read what happens when their wish comes true.

Recommended for Children

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Matt recommends "Infidel"

From early life in Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Kenya and Ethiopia, to a controversial tenure in Dutch parliament, and finally, to employment at a policy institute in the US, Ayaan Hirsi Ali has come a long way. Her riveting and moving autobiography traces her path, while doubling as a platform from which she explains the politically incorrect views that make her both a popular and despised leader of the Islamic reformation. Raised Muslim, Ali experienced a slow, painful turn away from faith, toward reason. Having undergone ritual genital mutilation as a young girl in Somalia, and having fled to the Netherlands in order to escape an arranged marriage, Ali came to perceive what she considers deep, fundamental flaws in Islam, mostly having to do with the subordinate place of women in Muslim societies. But as her blunt, passionate critiques of Islam became louder, factions of her opposition became more violent and threatening, eventually driving her into hiding, where she remains. Her straightforward and poignant memoir is a testament to reason, gender equality, education and free speech, and offers an informative glimpse into life and politics in both east Africa and the Netherlands. Recommended for adult readers.