Thursday, January 19, 2017

Ms. Angie's 2016 Staff Picks

This week Ms. Angie is sharing her favorite books and movies from the past years!  Please click the title to read the review.

Books

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

What Strange Creatures by Emily Arsenault

Lost Among the Living by Simone St. James


Mini-series

Happy Valley season 1

I'm looking forward to reading the new releases from Anna McPartlin, Emily Arsenault, and Simone St. James in 2017 as well as watching the new season of Mercy Street.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Graceling by Kristen Cashore

Miss Shayne returns with a new book review.  Read on to find out what she's reading!

This book has been on my bookshelf at home since summer. I have a habit of collecting books with every intention of reading them, only to discover I don’t have enough time to read my ever-growing library. I was determined to pick something out and read it over my winter break. I decided on Graceling by Kristen Cashore mostly because I thought it wasn’t part of a series. As it turns out, it’s a trilogy. So I have my work cut out for me.

In this book, some people have incredible abilities called graces. These graces range from mind reading to predicting weather patterns to baking good bread. A person could be graced with anything—even if it’s useless. In most countries, the graced usually strike fear into the hearts of people who are not graced. In Katsa’s case, this is especially true. She has the ability to fight really well and this has resulted in her harming several people and killing one.

Katsa has been living under her uncle’s thumb her whole life. He is the King, and he has realized that Katsa’s ability to harm people could benefit him, so she often gets sent off to do his bidding. She hates doing this but doesn’t know how she can escape from him when everyone thinks she is a heartless monster. However, without the King knowing, Katsa has created an organization that rescues people and helps ease corruption across the land. Once Katsa realizes that a seemingly fair King from a nearby country might not be as good as she initially thought, she sets out to discover the truth.

This was a fairly entertaining book. It is action-packed, led by a heroine, and the main conflict has to do with a corrupt government. This is the perfect recipe for a book I would enjoy. Katsa is an amazing heroine who will stop at nothing to carry out a mission she has been tasked with. She almost seems superhuman sometimes (she kills a wildcat with her bare hands!).

Though there are some good characters in this book, I’m not completely invested in them. They sometimes seem one-dimensional because some of them start to sound the same. For instance, the two main characters are basically the same person; they even have the same thought and speech patterns on several occasions. Every time I noticed them using “Well. And…” I cringed a little. To me, it’s an awkward line that stands out. And it happened. All. The. Time.

There are two more books in this series, but they don’t star Katsa. This is a little disappointing because I would have loved to hear about what happened after this book from her perspective. The second book in this series stars a different girl in a different country, and the third book stars a companion of Katsa’s eight years after Graceling. I’m still going to give these two a read just to check this series off my list, but I usually like stories that go from point A to point B, not stories that switch between characters, countries, and conflicts. I hope this turns out to be more interesting than aggravating.


--Reviewed by Miss Shayne

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Shayne's 2016 Staff Picks

This week Shayne shares her picks for 2016.  Read on to find out her favorite books, movies, and music from the past year!

Books

Without Tess by Marcella Pixley; Shayne says, "this story is about the bond between two sisters.  In the present Lizzie is dealing with the death of her sister.  She has flashbacks that show Tess's mental illness slowly getting worse."

Thanks for the Trouble by Tommy Wallach; Shayne says, "this is about a couple of days in the life of a loner who encounters a person that changes their outlook on life.  There isn't a lot of action in this book, but its creative elements kept me interested."  Shayne also reviewed this title on the blog!  Click here to read her review.

Movies

Suicide Squad

Nerve

The Shallows

Music

Death of a Bachelor by Panic! at the Disco; to read Shayne's review of this CD, please click here.

This is Acting by Sia; to read Shayne's review of this CD, please click here.

In 2017 Shayne is looking forward to seeing the movie Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales!

Monday, January 9, 2017

All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

All the Missing Girls is Megan Miranda's first adult novel; she has previously written several YA novels.  However, I haven't read any of Miranda's YA novels.  All the Missing Girls is a thriller, a genre I don't read as often as I used to, and a page turner.  You won't be able to put it down, and you won't see many of the twists coming until they're right on top of you.  The story opens on day 1 and then flashes forward to day 15 and unspools backwards one day at a time back to day 1 before jumping forward again at the very end to wrap up the story.  It's a messy ending and it's probably not your stereotypical 'happy ending.'

Nicolette's father is slowly succumbing to dementia and now that he's run out of money, Nicolette and her brother, Daniel, must sell the house to finance their father's upkeep at the convalescence home.  So Nicolette returns home to tiny Cooley Ridge, NC, for the summer to ready her father's house for sale and put his affairs in order.  It is her return home that serves as the catalyst for everything that comes afterwards.

Once back in Cooley Ridge Nicolette's summer is derailed when a young woman named Annaliese goes missing from town.  The disappearance dredges up the fears and uncertainties remaining regarding the disappearance a decade prior of Nicolette's best friend Corinne.  All the persons of interest in that still unsolved disappearance remain in town except for Nicolette who escaped up North and rarely returns home.  And now those same persons of interest, from Daniel to their father to Nicolette's former high school boyfriend (who was now dating Annaliese), are under renewed scrutiny in the current disappearance.  As Nicolette delves into the past, dredging up all the secrets and lies related to Corinne's disappearance and the toll the investigation took on her family, friendships, and the town, she starts losing weight and losing sleep.  As the days unfold in reverse time all of Nicolette's secrets and lies are laid bare to the reader.  Is Annaliese's disappearance tied to Corinne's?  If so, how and why?  Who is stealthily entering her father's house to rifle through his belongings and what are they looking for?  Why was Annaliese obsessed with Corinne's disappearance?

This book sucks you in from the first chapter and as the story progresses it becomes increasingly harder to put down until the mysteries of both disappearances are resolved.  While the story structure is unique and allows for the organic reveal of several story twists, keeping track of the twists that reveal Nicolette's increasing repertoire of obfuscation as well as her possible motives for such is tricky.  Miranda's writing is both haunting and lyrical in its depiction of two weeks that threaten to unravel everything that Nicolette has built since she left her small hometown.  I highly recommend you pick this up the next time you visit the library.

--Reviewed by Ms. Angie

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Tim's 2016 Staff Picks

We're kicking off this year's Staff Picks with Tim's favorites from 2016!  Read on to find out what he picked!

Tim's favorite book: American Gods by Neil Gaiman / Tim says about this read, "[it] is really good, I appreciated how it managed an Americana atmosphere without glossing over early foreign influences."

Tim's favorite movie: Kubo and the Two Strings!