I don’t know about you but I am beyond excited for the new season of Game of Thrones (and the last 2 books)! I have re-watched the show multiple times and read all the books plus some of the novellas but one I hadn’t picked up till recently was A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms. I was looking for a good audio book to listen to and I saw this as a way to fill the void. 😉
As I was listening I started to recognize the voice as one of the characters from season 1, Viserys Targaryen. The actor Harry Lloyd who portrayed him is the narrator and did a great job of bringing the story to life.
First Line: The spring rains had softened the ground, so Dunk had no trouble digging the grave.
Summary: The story takes place 100 years before the events of Game of Thrones. We meet Dunk, a new hedge knight and recent squire to Ser Arlan of Pennytree. His master has died and left him with his horse, armor and sword. Dunk decides that as a new knight and one in need of money needs to enter a local tournament in order to earn some coin and prestige. He was always told that he was good with a sword and at 7 feet tall he was an impressive figure. When he stumbles upon a stable boy named Egg, this unlikely pair travel across Westeros getting into trouble and creating tales of their own.
Highlights: It’s George R. R. Martin so therefore it is very detailed with lots of characters. There are 3 short stories but they all connect bringing it full circle in the end. There are little surprises and lots of history of the Seven Kingdoms during the time of the Targaryens. The illustrations throughout the book are fun to look at and give more life to the story. This is a fun little side story that is perfect for the readers that are waiting for season 7.
Lowlights: The names. There are so many characters with names that are so similar that it is hard to keep track of who is who (especially when listening to the audio). But the imagination that goes into these names is spectacular.
FYI: Violence but that is par for the course with life in the Seven Kingdoms.
Summary: Eliyana is a girl who likes to hide because of a birth mark that spreads across her face. But when her mother dies her world turns upside down. Her guardian tries to protect her but things keep happening that lead her to a new world she never knew existed. As she learns more about this alternate world she finds that she has to find strength in herself to save it and its people.
Highlights: I don’t know what it is but I love YA covers! This one is beautiful and draws the reader to it. I loved that the main character wasn’t the go-to beautiful girl with amazing skills. Eliyana is normal with insecurities just like everyone else. The other main characters are developed to the point where you are cheering or booing them. You get invested in the story.
Lowlights: The problem I had was the plot got a little too complex at times. I was lost for a while until it all started to come to climax of the story. There are a lot of characters as well, with many different abilities to keep track of.
Have you ever read a book about a historical figure and then had to jump on Wikipedia to learn more about the person? I have. All the time. My most recent historical obsession is Ingrid Bergman.
I have been reading the newest book by Kate Alcott, The Hollywood Daughter, which is about a young girl who lives in L.A. and idolizes Ingrid. She meets the famous actress and follows her career through its ups and downs.
The movie, Anastasia, with Ingrid Bergman and Yul Brynner was my first introduction to this iconic actress. She was beautiful and talented. As I am reading the main character talks about the movies that Ingrid has starred in and I immediately started adding them to my library hold list.
This week I have delved into The Bells of St. Mary’s and Notorious. Both were great but I was particularly taken with the chemistry between Bing Crosby and Ingrid in the Bells of St. Mary’s. I searched IMDb.com for trivia on the movie Notorious and found that Cary Grant and Alfred Hitchcock became lifelong friends with Ingrid after filming ended.
I still have For Whom the Bell Tolls and Murder on the Orient Express to watch and I am greatly looking forward to them. This enchanting Swedish actress that took America by storm in the 1940s has put me under her spell.
Check back soon for my review of The Hollywood Daughter by Kate Alcott.
The sun is shining a little bit more lately and the temperatures are warming up as well. We are getting those April showers that are supposed to bring us flowers in May. And April is giving us a great shower of new books to read as well. Here are some of the most anticipated titles that will be released in the second half of April.
April 18: The Stars are Fire by Anita Shreve
The latest novel by acclaimed author Anita Shreve is based on the true story of the largest fire in Maine’s history. It’s October 1947 and fires break out along the Maine coast. Before long, the fires are burning from village to village. Grace and Rosie are left to care for their small children when their husbands join the volunteer to fight the fires. As fire sweeps through their village, burning their homes to the ground, the women retreat to the sea, their only refuge, watching as their homes are burned to the ground and frantically protecting their children. As morning dawns, they are penniless, homeless and left to await news of their husbands’ fate.
April 18: The Fix (Amos Decker #3) by David Baldacci
Amos Decker watches as a man kills a woman, then turns the gun on himself, right outside FBI headquarters. Despite Decker’s powers of observation, he is baffled by the murder. He and his team can find no connection between the man and woman whatsoever. Then Decker is ordered off the case by an agent from the Defense Intelligence Agency.
April 25: Blade Bound (Chicagoland
Vampires #13) by Chloe Neill
This is the final installment in the Chicagoland Vampires series (cue my tears here). Cadogan House is infiltrated and Merritt is attacked by a vampire apparently under the power of dark magic. Chicago is again under supernatural attack as a wicked sorcery spreads through the city. It’s up to Merritt, with her Liege, love and master of Cadogan House — Ethan, at her side to save her city and all those she loves.
April 25: Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout
From Pulitzer Prize winner Strout comes a piece of fiction that is reminiscent of Olive Kitteridge in its complexity and richness. During the writing of My Name is Lucy Barton, Strout realized that the characters that Lucy and her mother talked about had their own stories. You’ll learn more about the “Pretty Nicely Girls,” Tommy, and Lucy Barton’s sister Vicky.
April 25: The Red Hunter by Lisa Unger
Two wronged women on wildly different paths are on a collision course that ends at one old house. Zoey Drake’s parents were murdered in a home invasion when she was a child. Claudia Bishop is trying to put her shattered life back together after a brutal assault. Claudia hopes to find a fresh start in restoring an old house. Zoey has embraced the rage within her and excels in martial arts. Zoey seeks justice and Claudia seeks peace, in the one place they have in common.
April 25: Burntown by Jennifer McMahon
Eva’s father is an inventor, and has possession of blueprints for a fantastic invention by Thomas Edison, one that will allow people to speak with those who have passed. Her father builds the machine and one night it whirrs to life on its own with a warning of danger. Eva wakes, and her father and brother are dead, and she and her mother need to hide from an evil man who is searching from them. Eva changes her name to her Necco—her favorite candy, but as she searches for the truth, she meets two more women who are on journeys of their own.
April 25: The Girl Who Was Taken by Charlie Donlea
Megan and Nicole are high school seniors in Emerson Bay, North Carolina. One summer night, they disappear from a beach party, and the police can’t find a single clue. Everyone has nearly lost hope when Megan suddenly reappears, having escaped from a bunker in the woods. Fast forward a year and Megan is a national celebrity after writing a bestselling book about her ordeal, but Nicole is still missing. Megan knows more than she shared in her book, but where will that knowledge get her?
Click on the title of any book to find it in our catalog.
First Line: Like any Chicago tavern in deep summer, Joe Mulligan’s stank.
Summary: Kate Warne is a widow looking for her place in the world. She doesn’t fit into the conventional occupations of women during the 1850s in Chicago but when she walks into the Pinkerton Detective Agency she finds her calling. Based on the real-life first female detective in the US. Kate goes undercover to find thieves and murderers. No one believes a woman can do this job but she proves them wrong.
Highlights: I love the history. I have never heard about Kate Warne but she sounds fascinating even though we don’t know much about her. I loved Greer Macallister’s first book and was excited to read this one too! She writes a gripping story with amazing leading characters. I liked that the cases were all short so that the story doesn’t drag on and get slow.
Lowlights: I felt like the end was a little flat. I wanted a little more but it needed to be summed up and it did that. But still a great book!
FYI: Some violence. Great for lovers of historical fiction and books about strong women who defy the times.
First Line: Kelsea Glynn sat very still, watching the troop approach her homestead.
Summary: Kelsea Glynn is the Queen of the Tearling. She was raised away from her mother, the capital city and the life of a queen. When she returns to New London she knows that she has the right to rule but it comes with more challenges than she expects. There are enemies everywhere plotting her downfall. The neighboring Red Queen who has been taking Tear slaves for years, the ministers in her cabinet and even the church leaders have expectations from the new queen but Kelsea is not an ordinary queen. The magical Tear jewel gives Kelsea new powers that she has no idea how to harness. Visions of the Crossing, the exodus from a distant land of advanced technology, begin to invade her mind and show her the vision of what the Tearling was meant to be. As she learns more about the past, the present is creeping in from all sides as the enemies advance on her and her kingdom.
Highlights: The detail is fabulous. Everything is beautifully written and the characters are complex and filled with secrets. You think you know what is going to happen but then it is turned upside down. There are little twists that keeps the reader guessing. I loved the flashbacks. All the books were amazing and highly recommended.
Lowlights: The one problem I had was the time in between reading each book led to me forgetting facts or confusing events and names. There is so much detail that it is hard to remember it all but each book does a good job of summarizing the last and ties it up at the end.
FYI: There is violence, sex, magic and language but it doesn’t deter from the story but only enriches it.
First Line: When I picture the house I see it in the late afternoon, the golden river light filling the windows and gilding the two-hundred-year-old brick.
Summary: When Jess and Clare Martin move from Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to their former college town in the Hudson River valley, they are hoping for rejuvenation—of their marriage, their savings, and Jess’s writing career. They take a caretaker’s job at Riven House, a crumbling estate and the home of their old college writing professor. While Clare once had dreams of being a writer, those plans fell by the wayside when Jess made a big, splashy literary debut in their twenties. It’s been years, now, since his first novel. The advance has long been spent. Clare’s hope is that the pastoral beauty and nostalgia of the Hudson Valley will offer some inspiration. But their new life isn’t all quaint town libraries and fragrant apple orchards. There is a haunting pall that hangs over Riven House like a funeral veil. Something is just not right. Soon, Clare begins to hear babies crying at night, see strange figures in fog at the edge of their property. Diving into the history of the area, she realizes that Riven House has a dark and anguished past. And whatever this thing is—this menacing force that destroys the inhabitants of the estate—it seems to be after Clare next…
Highlights: I LOVE Gothic Fiction, and Carol Goodman writes it so well! Big old house ✓ Rich old money ✓ Ghosts ✓ Great twist at the end ✓.
Lowlights: I really can’t think of any. It was a great read that I didn’t want to put down.
FYI: This book is for anyone who wants to read a great Gothic novel.
Around here April Fool’s Day is a day to look forward to. Two of our staff members wait for this day like it was Christmas. There are always shenanigans to be had and laughs all around. This year did not disappoint.
Mr. T always makes an appearance. Fun “facts” are scattered around the staff areas. “Notices” are posted for staff information.
How big is your to-read stack? However big it is, here are some great new books coming out the first two weeks of April that would be great additions to that stack of books on your nightstand. Click on the title of the book to find it in our catalog.
April 4: The Chosen by J. R. Ward
The 15th installment is the Black Dagger Brotherhood series finds Xcor facing a brutal interrogation after he is convicted of treason. Layla knows the truth that will free him, but the cost could be everything she holds dear.
April 4: Shadowcaster by Cinda Williams Chima
Book 2 in the Shattered Realms series. Lyss, the reluctant heir to the Gray Wolf throne goes on the offensive to try to put a stop to the war that has raged her whole life. Hal, who lives on the other side of enemy lines, finds himself in more and more dangerous situations, and caught in a game of life and death. This series is set in the world of the Seven Realms series.
April 11: The Shadow Land: A Novel by Elizabeth Kostova
Alexandra Boyd, a young American, travels to Bulgaria, and through a series of events finds herself in possession of an ornately designed box containing an urn filled with human boxes. The ornate box has a name carved on the lid, which compels Alexandra to seek out the family to return the ashes. Her journey takes through the horrors of a century and throughout the country’s landscapes, both cultural and geographical.
April 11: Alex and Eliza: A Love Story by Melissa de la CruzMeet a young Alexander Hamilton. And meet Eliza Schuyler, one of three daughters of fledgling United States’ founding families. It’s 1777 in Albany, New York, where people are bustling about preparing for one of New York society’s biggest events: the Schuyler’s grand ball. Eliza would rather be helping the colonists’ cause than attending a ball, but she can barely contain her excitement when she learns that Alexander Hamilton will be in attendance.
April 11: Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis
This young adult novel is the story of Khosa, a girl born to be given to the sea to prevent a wave that would destroy the Kingdom of Stille; Vincent, third in line to hold the throne of the kingdom; Dara and Donil, twins who are the last of the Indiri, a race whose magic is fading; and Witt, who leads the army of Pietra. Enter the world of Stille and experience a world where armies march, royals scheme and the sea wants its offering.
First Line: I rush through the catacombs, my face shrouded beneath the brim of a cap, skimming by the empty eyes of ancient skulls.
Summary: Danica lives in Versailles; the palace built by Louis XIV, wearing gowns and waited on by servants. The twist is the story takes place in the near future. As Danica tries to escape life at the palace and an engagement to the King of Versailles-Sonoma she has to go to drastic measures to buy her freedom. Glitter, a new drug, is going to be the key. Selling it to the other inhabitants of the palace seems harmless enough until she starts seeing the consequences of her actions on her friends and family.
Highlights: The cover is beautiful. This is what drew me to the book initially but I was shocked by how much I liked this book. The story is consuming. I read this in a few days because I had to know if Danica was going to be able to escape. It felt like a mix of historical fiction and Cinder by Marissa Meyer.
Lowlights: The reviews on Goodreads are not very favorable but I think if you give this book a chance and remember it is YA you will enjoy it. The plot is a little farfetched but I think that is the appeal.